Amy Krouse Rosenthal has a new book out this month and to celebrate the beginning of the school year, I'm giving two copies away!
But first, a little information: It is probably widely known that I am an Amy Krouse Rosenthal superfan; when she announced she was searching for some people to be part of her latest book promotion team I applied that same day. Her last book for grownups, Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, is one of my all-time favorites (along with pretty much every single one of her children's books). There's something so... hygge about everything she writes. (I was reading this interview in the Chicago Tribune* about the book, where she references the Danish word "hygge" and I did some more reading about it, and that is absolutely how I would describe the experience of reading her books. Perfect!).
I read my advance copy on my flights from Denver to Montgomery in June—this was both perfect and problematic. Perfect because it is the right length of book to read on a flight. Problematic because of the format: this is a book to read when you actually have cell service or wifi, because it's interactive. I had no idea how impatient I would be to land so I could get my text sent to get started on the process of being able to submit things or request things, depending on the part of the book I was reading. I took paper notes on everything so I could start during my layover in Dallas. This format? Really, really fun, and completely different from anything I've ever read before. I think that was the point—this is the first interactive book of this kind published.
I did rip the page out as I was instructed to do so I could give it to the lady sitting next to me (after working up the nerve and waiting until the last minute before we deboarded). I may have startled her at first, but she seemed genuinely touched that I ripped a page out of my book to give to her. Heh. Related: don't tell the girls I ripped a page out of my book. They still haven't recovered from the projects I did for Ella Publishing Co.'s Book Crafting.
An important piece of magic to report: one of the things I did while waiting for my second flight from Dallas to Montgomery was the part about sharing messages of good luck for her safekeeping. It feels too private to tell you exactly what I texted, but I will tell you it had to do with Cleveland. Who went on to WIN THE NBA CHAMPIONSHIP A FEW DAYS LATER**. You be the judge.
Another favorite opportunity for interaction: submitting to the Live Rainbow Feed. I was anxious to spot a rainbow so I could do this one, and I finally spotted one a few weeks ago and immediately texted the photo.
I think this style of book appeals to me not because it's particularly challenging in length or content, but because it stays with me. Just like Encylopedia of an Ordinary Life, this book is all about the author's experiences—but not just the author's experiences, because it so seamlessly draws in the reader and his or her experiences, too. It is no secret that I also love things written into a familiar format: lists, the almanac format I used for The Scrapbooker's Almanac, an encylopedia, a textbook. And the fact that this one is participatory makes an already good reading experience into a shared one. Hygge for sure.
I want to share Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal with you, too! There is a pre-assessment in the introduction, and you can answer one of those questions as your official entry:
In Group Discussions
a.) I truly want to hear what others have to say and enjoy listening.
b.) I theoretically want to hear what others have to say, yet I find myself doing most of the talking.
c.) I want others to hear what I have to say, but I seem to have difficulty inserting/asserting myself.
d.) I want others to hear what I have to say and have no problem whatsoever making that happen.
You can just tell me which one, or you can elaborate : )
I will draw two winners based on the age-old blog giveaway rules here: giveaway will remain open until it's closed. So don't delay!
*Speaking of people I am on book promotion teams for that have recently appeared in The Chicago Tribune, here's another one. 🎉
**I have SO MUCH MORE TO SAY about the Cavs, and as I address the sad backlog of blog posts from this summer, I intend to do so. Obnoxiously. Hee.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to share some of their favorite reads of 2014 (or books they're looking forward to!). What a great list—definitely take a look in the comments for some great book ideas!
My trusty assistant Random.org has chosen a winner!
#9, which happens to be:
Hooray, Melissa! The book will be available in the U.S. Amazon store in mid-2015 if anyone else would like to purchase a copy (and of course, available now directly through Unbound as an eBook or gorgeous hardbound copy).
Special thanks to Unbound for sponsoring this giveaway!
People who love lists! People who love books! People who love interesting things! Have I got the giveaway for you. Truly, this might be the most exciting giveaway I've ever orchestrated here. You could give it as a Christmas gift, but you might not be able to part with it. Behold:
One copy of Shaun Usher's absolutely beautiful Lists of Note, which isn't really available in the U.S. until June 2015. This first edition copy comes direct from the very unique (and generous) U.K.-based publisher (more on that in a minute).
I don't remember when I discovered Shaun Usher's blog Lists of Note or its companion blog Letters of Note, but I've been a subscriber for a couple of years, at least. He shares lists and letters (of course!) written by famous authors, artists, photographers, politicians, activists, musicians, and many more. I bought my dad a copy of Letters of Note for Father's Day this year and he has enjoyed it tremendously.
Here's a peek inside this 318 page book (click to enlarge images):
There are 125 lists in total; they come with a little explanation next to the original image, and all are translated (which makes sense for many that are not in English or are nearly illegible). It's a book to be devoured, savored, and revisited. It elevates the practice of list-making into an art form. It's truly a gorgeous book. And I have a copy to share! To enter, just leave me a comment about either a favorite book you read this year or a book you're excited to read. I will selfishly compile them into my own reading lists for 2015 : ) Winner will be announced in a few days. Enter now, because comments will remain open until...I close them!
This giveaway is sponsored by Unbound! You should check them out.
Unbound is revolutionary new way to get books published, founded by three authors, John Mitchinson, Justin Pollard and Dan Kieran. Using the www.unbound.co.uk publishing platform, authors pitch their book ideas directly to their readers. Readers choose the ideas that they like on the website and pledge their support. When an idea has enough supporters, the book is written and produced. All supporters get their name printed in every edition of the book and all pledge levels include the e-book and immediate access to the author's shed.
To date Unbound has published books from several well-known authors including Kate Mosse, Julie Burchill, Jonathan Meades, Chris Yates, Robert Llewellyn and ex-Python Terry Jones, as well as a first novel from comedian Katy Brand and the bestselling Letters of Note by Shaun Usher. The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth, published by Unbound, became the first crowdfunded novel to be long listed for the Man Booker prize this year.
I posted this photo of Bridget running up the stairs at the gym on Instagram yesterday, with the caption "Bee, post-gym." As the picture sunk in, so did the story—enough that I wanted a chance to redo the telling of it.
What I should have written instead:
Lately I have to hold my breath when Bridget runs up the stairs after gymnastics, not sure if she'll be bouncing up the stairs with excitement over some new skill attempted or deflated by a self-imposed sense of defeat brought on by a disproportionate ratio of exuberance to strength or endurance. She has impatiently waited for over a year to be promoted to pre-team, and now that she's there, she's discovering it is a far harder place to be than she imagined. Do we encourage her through the transition until her muscles and skills catch up? Do we start to firmly suggest other sports, even though her heart has always been at the gym? Is she pursuing gymnastics because it's become the family business, or does she genuinely love it, too? Is there anything worse than a kid who is afraid to voice her true opinions?
It is so hard to know. Even when you ask her, it's still hard to know the right thing.
When I saw the light falling on these stairs yesterday, I hot-footed it over to catch a picture of it. I knew she would come up the stairs before the sunshine shifted, and I wanted to get a picture of her in that light, too. She was four parts unhappy-exhausted to six parts happy-tired last night when the shadows fell away, so we'll continue to wait and see for now.
You know who is really good at teasing the stories out of people and pictures? Angie Lucas. Her newest Big Picture Classes workshop kicks off tomorrow, and I'm excited to share a free spot! Here are the details:
There's no question about it: your story matters.
And there's no easier, faster, or more satisfying way to tell your story than through quizzes and questions!
Introducing Quizapalooza, a 5-week interactive workshop that makes it simple to share meaningful stories in your scrapbooks, journals, and Project Life albums—or even via your blog or social media channels.
Your instructor, Angie Lucas, has carefully curated more than 180 questions to help you capture fascinating tidbits about all areas of your life, including:
Who: The People You Love
What: Objects, Ideas & Experiences
When: Past, Present & Future
Where: Places that Matter
Why: Reasons & Explorations
It is a fact: Angie makes people better writers and storytellers. Her workshop is full of questions that won't let you fall victim to the generic caption, whether you're a scrapbooker, a blogger, an Instagrammer, or some combination of all three. Leave me a comment here to be eligible to take her class (normally $39) for free! Registration will remain open until September 24. I'll announce the winner tomorrow so you can jump in on Day 1!
[Giveaway now closed, thanks for playing along!]
[Ed. note: I found out this morning that Daniel Wallace will be in town on September 6 to sign copies of Big Fish (I KNOW!!!!) so I'm going to leave this giveaway open for a few extra days; the winner will now receive a signed copy!]
[Ed. note, #2: Comments are now closed, though I'm going to open them back up for a little bit this weekend so I can comment on all these cool coincidences!!]
A few months ago I was listening to a This American Life podcast about coincidence stories; it was an especially good episode, because it featured a number of stories that make you say "NO WAY!" and shake your head at the sheer unbelievability of how such a coincidence could actually occur. As I was listening, I was thinking about the coincidences I've experienced in my life; up until that point, the only one with true staying power was the one about my locks: the Masterlock lock I began using in 7th grade for gym at Kimpton (and still have!) was exactly one digit off the combination for each turn as my high school locker for four years (34-0-14 and 35-1-13). That seems like a really super one to me, but maybe not noteworthy enough to submit to This American Life or anything.
Since I listened to that episode, I now have two more stories to add to my list of coincidence stories. The first the one is about how Maddie's first friend at her new middle school just so happens to be the daughter of a friend of fellow photographer and scrapbooker Christa Paustenbaugh; the girls found each other independently of knowing this connection. It was only when her mama and I struck up a conversation about being new in town and where'd we come from at a school orientation (as you do when you're a military family) that I learned they had just recently come from Japan. Ever the seeker of needles in haystacks, I said "hey, my friend Christa just moved from Japan too!" and she said "hey, she's my friend too!" which I find to be a pretty coincidental kind of discovery. Especially since they weren't assigned to the same place in Japan, but rather met at a previous assignment. Christa had been hoping we'd meet, but hadn't yet given us the heads up to go looking for each other.
The other one is quite possibly the most unbelievable coincidence I've ever experienced. Here goes:
So right after we got back from Disney World last month we took Maddie over to her new school to check things out and get her signed up for the already-in-progress symphonic band camp going on (which, coincidentally, is where Maddie met her new friend). It was scheduled early in the morning a few times a week, and one of the days I took her over Matt didn't have to be at school until a little later in the morning so I opted to explore downtown Montgomery instead of driving all the way home and back. One of the places I went was a bookstore I had scouted out last November when we were online house hunting, Capitol Book & News. We didn't end up renting the house down the street from the bookstore, alas. When I walked in, I could tell that it was a hundred times cooler than my Google Map walking tour let on.
I gleefully explored for about an hour, picking up a few birthday gifts and Other Things I Couldn't Pass By. I took a bunch of photos of books I wanted to remember for later (does anyone else do this in bookstores? I must have 100 photos of me holding books in my hand). My last selection was a copy of Big Fish, which I have written about here before; it's a book/movie that I absolutely, positively loved but is also very significant to me because it was the book that got me to finally work up the nerve to query Simple Scrapbooks back in 2004. I'm pretty sure my copy is missing—I think I must have lent it out at some point so I decided on a whim that it was time to both reread and replace it.
As it was nearing time for me to head back and get Maddie, I wandered back up front to pay. I plunked my books down with Big Fish on top; the lady working smiled and said "ah, Big Fish. That's a great story." I am always happy to strike up a conversation with a friendly bookseller, so I offered that I loved it—both the book and the movie—and was replacing my strangely lost copy. She then went on to ask me if I knew that part of the movie was filmed in Cloverdale, the neighborhood in which this book store is located right here in Montgomery?
I must have looked totally shocked but then launched into an abbreviated and blather-y explanation of why this book was so important to me; she went on to tell the whole story, how Ewan McGregor, Danny DeVito, and the rest of the cast (to include Helena Bonham Carter!) stayed in Montgomery for the months they filmed the movie, occasionally hanging out in the bookstore on their breaks and off-hours as a quiet and safe place to go. She explained that the staff tried very, very hard to maintain nonchalance about the whole thing, earning the trust and goodwill of the actors; the entire bookstore staff was invited to the final post-production dinner as a thank you for their hospitality.
Seriously. I have unwittingly bought a replacement copy of the book that I credit with launching my freelance writing career in the bookstore WHERE THE ACTORS FILMING THE MOVIE VERSION HUNG OUT?!?
I had no idea this movie was filmed in Alabama. There is no amount of head-shaking that will help me to process the unlikeliness of this coincidence, ever. Especially since I've been kind of mulling over taking some big, brave action to do more with my writing since we've moved here. Maybe my coincidence is really just the universe giving me a Big Push. Whatever the case, it truly is a coincidence of mythic proportions.
Do you have a coincidence story? Leave me a comment about it and I'll do a little random drawing in the next day or so to select one person to receive a copy of Big Fish. Because sometimes, you have to share the gifts of the universe : ) As usual with giveaways here, comments remain open until they're closed.
Giveaway is now closed! Thank you for playing along!
The Phone Photography Project 2 kicks off in exactly one month! I decided I better get my giveaway done now, because in the next month we will pack up the house, move to a new state, unload the truck to a house we have not yet stepped foot in (ever), unpack as much as possible in a week, register the girls at their new schools, settle on a new gym, and then visit Disney World for the first time ever.
OH MY GOSH. Seeing it all written out like that...
Let's focus on the giveaway for now. Here's some info about the class:
Would you like to take better photos with the camera you always have with you—your smartphone?
Get ready to transform your mobile photography in a brand-new interactive workshop, The Phone Photography Project 2, starting July 17. Twenty expert iPhoneographers have collected their best tips, tricks, and tutorials for phone photography, and they're ready to share it all with you inside a private online classroom—with lots of fun happening on Instagram, too.
With practical tips for mastering lighting, composition, editing, and more, this workshop will give you the tools you need to create impressive photos you'll be proud to share online, in your home, or in your scrapbooks.
I am so excited for this class. I think I'm starting to sound like a broken record on this point, but it is just full of amazing, inspiring, and useful content. If you take pictures with a phone (or iPad), this is for you, whether you're new to phone photography or have been at it for a while. It will be well worth every penny! If you've already registered and your name is selected, you'll get your money refunded. If you have been sitting on the fence, please consider signing up! Either way, to
be in the running just leave me a comment to say hi, or tell me something fun you're doing this summer, or share your must-see list of attractions in Alabama. Whatever. : )
As usual with giveaways here, comments will remain open until... they're closed. I'll aim for sometime on Sunday. One person will be selected at random, so hurry, hurry, comment away!
Thank you all so much for sharing your stories here... as always I simultaneously love and hate to do giveaways, because on one hand, it's so nice to be able to share these classes as a treat but on the other hand, I can only share them with two people. I wish everyone could win : )
My trusty partner in giveaways, Random.org, chose the following comment numbers tonight:
Which means the following two readers will receive a free seat in An Update To Remember!
Congratulations, Gina and June! I hope everyone else will still consider taking this workshop. Registration is open until April 2!
An Update To Remember opens next week (March 27) at Big Picture Classes! This is a different kind of workshop than has been offered before, because it's all about incorporating social media into memory keeping and scrapbooking. It's definitely geared toward scrapbookers, though anyone who wants to be more deliberate in their social media usage can benefit. It's divided into four weeks and will cover Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. (See video above! I didn't make it, but you can spot some familiar faces if you watch it!). I will be joined by Kelli Crowe, Tami Morrison, Katie Scott, and Stacy Julian during the four week workshop.
Katie and I have (sadly) never met in person, but I can tell you that Kelli and Tami are among some of the funniest AND funnest people I know (yes, I used that on purpose—Tami is actually The Funnest Scrapbooker Ever, officially crowned in an international contest held by Simple Scrapbooks Magazine, may it RIP). They are also true internet/social media friends: Kelli and I go waaaaay back to 2004 on Two Peas and have run in the same online circle ever since, and Tami was the first person to show me how Instagram worked, a good year and a half before I ever had an account. Our lasting friendships are all examples of the Positive Power of Social Media.
That's Kelli and me in 2007, when she gave me like five minutes notice that she and her husband were coming to my house for lunch when we lived in California. (OK, it was more like three hours, but I still was hot and sweaty from running around getting ready when they showed up). It was SO MUCH FUN, and now I have a "surprise Kelli with three hours notice" card that I am totally going to cash in when we move to Montgomery.
That's me and Tami in Bishop Arts District, after our first day teaching together at the Great American Scrapbook Convention in Arlington, TX in 2010. Monica McNeill took the photo, and it was hands down one of the most fun late afternoons/evenings I've ever spent traveling—kindred spirits, all three of us.
And bonus! Stacy Julian will also share an adapted version of her recent talk at The Timpanogos Storytelling Conference held in Provo, UT titled Building Family Stories Through Social Media. I'm really excited to watch it. I was looking for a fun picture of me and Stacy together because we go way back now too, but then I found this one that I took in 2008, which is even funnier because I had forgotten about it: that's Stacy with her mom and another famous Scrapbook Mom in Valley Forge, PA. (Can you identify her?) Talk about family stories!
Leave a comment to tell me one of the most memorable things you've ever shared on social media... I'll close comments sometime on Thursday evening!