Sunday, January 26, 2014

Adventure Time!

January 24th-26th, 2014

Fridays seem to be a little different in the office. I'd almost expected it to be crazier on Fridays to get everything in before people leave for the weekend, but it's kind of the opposite. At least from what I see. Some people are either working from home or off, others leave early--overall it's quieter, which is already odd since you're pretty much in a big room where everyone's reading something or another. It's basically a library with a kitchenette in it, and desk phones.

I'd gotten there early and ended up sketching the Accountant both the Lannister and Arryn sigils. Stark is next, I think. He's only got one House Stark poster on the outside of his desk; I want to pin them all in a group together around his generic griffon crest cut out.

So far a happy family, and it's only gonna get bigger. Like George R. R. Martin's death tolls.

I was hefted a giant book with type-stamped numbers and handwritten titles all in lists. This is the book in which publishers assign ISBN numbers to their books. Sometimes that even means leaving seemingly random blanks for works anticipated by some author. Publishers will buy books and series that do not yet exist in advance, sometimes, because they know that author will sell and it's like the publisher is calling dibs on whatever masterpiece it may become. Faith and taxes. It's the author's job then to pull through, which does not always happen. One promised series got completely replaced by new titles by the same author because the original plan didn't work out to expectations. It was the ISBN numbers for the last two books of this non-series that I had to hunt for because for whatever reason they did not make it into the electronic file. I found them nestled together, Untitled for Series _____ #2 and Untitled for Series _____ #3!

I posted new hard copies of the updated 2014 schedules beside each editor's desk, read a couple of new manuscripts (one I really had fun reading; maybe it'll be on the DAW list some day?), and reviews--then my supervisor took me on a field trip.

Hitching a ride on an elevator up a couple floors, I was shown the "Take Shelves". They're actually speckled all over Penguin, but I guess the ones on these floors are bigger. One of the perks of being in editing and publishing is that there are shelves of extra prints that are no longer needed, so anyone can just take them home. And since Penguin prints everything, those shelves have classics like Mary Shelley up there with graphic novels and last year's best sellers--if you get there fast enough, anyway. Apparently I can come here whenever I've the time, and doubly cool is that for a DAW book I want to read, I pretty much just need to ask. I don't know if they realize what they've done in suggesting this, but I will be anticipating some rainy afternoons to dedicate to many of these unread books. For now, I just wanted a book from the Take Shelf that I'd never heard of and settled on a Dean Koontz novel called Watchers. I think I'd seen his name printed places before, but otherwise I know nothing about his writing and picked him pretty much because we share the name "Dean".

Now for: "Subway Adventures: Episode 3"

I love London's tube system. Adore it. It makes sense with clear cut lines going precisely here-to-there. The trains all have an electronic list of which stop you're at, how many stops total that train has and which ones, and which direction it is going. And the only distinction between the lines are RAINBOW COLO(U)RS.

I do not yet love the New York subways. I await that day patiently, but it is certainly not today. A-Z, 1-10...Why have 36 different lines? Oh they don't. They skipped letters. And they all still have colors. The ACE has regular C's, but A only goes down the middle track or in the direction you don't want to go, and E is out sick for the weekend. Oh did they not say? To get to A on the ACE take the C and hop one over to transfer on the A. Duh.

Then go to this German sounding street that you probably won't hear over the intercom anyway, or be able to read on the clusterfluff of a map, so look out the windows and read fast. Then get off A, get on G, get off at a presidential sounding street that'll let you exit at two totally differently named streets and STAY THERE so someone who actually knows what she's doing can find you.

I had left extra early on Sunday to make sure I got to Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church on time to visit some family friends who work there. I guess I had all my adventure follies the day before, because I arrived 45 minutes early and just wandered around for a coffee shop to kill time before 11:15. I spent most of the day with these guys, and their little baby. The baby is shy to the extent that when she sees someone new she will burst into tears and King Kong-climb up her mom with fear. I think she tolerated my existence by the time I left. She almost smiled at me a couple times, but would catch herself halfway through and hide her face behind her mom or dad.

Another good thing about traveling up this way was that I got to walk through Central Park all snow covered and everything. Chilly, but gorgeous. I realize this picture in no way does it justice, but at least there are trees here. I saw a few horse and buggy rides, too.

I did come across a bunch of people wearing these aluminum looking blankets that immediately made me think of alien fanatics, but apparently they were the New York Road Runners finishing up a race.

This weekend I also went to Pratt to visit one of my friends who studies architecture over there. Pratt, as well as being an institution of learning, is the proud owner of 12 cats: the Pratt Cats. They live in the engine room because that's actually a building and the warmest place on campus.

Some of the cats are show cats with ribbons to prove it, but mostly they're rescues from a nearby shelter. Some are also meaner than others, like apparently this one:

I don't know his name. He's got a nick in his ear he probably got in a fight, and while he has these gorgeous yellow eyes, he looked at me like there was no doubt hands would be bitten if they suddenly became in range. I did not pet this cat.

Pratt is a pretty neat looking school. A good part of it seems to be classrooms shoved in old textile factories, so everything is brownstone surrounded in these sculpture gardens. I have decided, though, that my absolute favorite thing about this school is how close it is to this killer bagel shop.


That's right. I had my first ever bagel and lox. I went up to the guy at the counter and asked for it, and he says,

"What kind?"

Me: However New Yorkers are supposed to eat it.

Him: (chuckles) That can be a lot'a ways.

Me: How would you eat it?

Him: That also can be a lot'a ways; I just like food!

Me: Hey, me too! Let's just do that. Surprise me with that in mind.

Him: Okay, a toasted everything bagel with cream cheese, fresh lox, tomato, an' onion.

It. Was. Amazing. Oh man. I'm going back.

The cream cheese array they had at this place made it all look like a gelato case! I am apparently supposed to order the lox cream cheese, next time. It's like what I got except the lox is mixed into the cream cheese so you get some with every bite.

Besides all that, this place was a normal bakery, too. I got a blueberry muffin that they cut in half and toasted with a tab of butter. Yum!

And speaking of buttered muffins, some housemates and I accidentally walked into the grand opening of a hipster sex shop.

One of the girls in my house was invited to the opening of her sponsor's gallery, and as the intern she was obligated to take him up on it. Plus she kind of wanted to, and she invited us. It was already a tiny space, but you could see people squished up against the glass unable to move there were so many people packed inside. We pushed our way through to the back anyway, just long enough to check some stuff out and mingle with the artist.

We'd wanted to go to a coffee shop after, but the one that my friend knew of was closed because it was 8:30 pm, I guess. Across the street was this little place with window paintings of The David in swimwear, pastel swirls, you know some things that make it look like a bustling artsy coffee joint. There were a bunch of people in there too, but we figured we could just get in and grab drinks to go.

We go in, and I don't know about the other girls, but first I'm looking for where they keep the barista, or where the heck this line is to order...I don't see one, so finally I focus on what is actually in this place. Next to the door there was a gumball machine, but with those plastic cup things that'll have fifty-cent rings, you know. Except they had specialty condoms in them instead. Like vegan condoms. ...Oh. Some of the other shelves had "You Time" toys on it. ...Oh. Some had HAND MADE signs next to the bondage equipment. ...Oh. There was a glass case to show where you could dip your delicates in gold paint and have them mounted on a plaque with engravings that ranged from "Lost Virginity" to "First Wet Dream". You can also get (extremely) personalized "You Time" toys of your genitalia to gift to a significant other. ...I see. Some of the girls want to come back to this store, so we decided that the code name for it should be "Not-a-Coffee-Shop".

For some reason they also had some really nice jewelry. Not like the do-weird-stuff-with-jewelry, but the nice, pretty, normal, your grandma-could-wear-this-tastefully-jewelry.

Then we found a Dunkin Donuts and had coffee.

In other less awkward-funny news, my Pratt friend showed me a little Chinese place on 14th Street that's called "Comebuy". It doubles as a bubble tea and dinner place. It is great and I'm going back there, too. She knew about it because apparently even though her school is in Brooklyn, one of her classes was all the way out here in Manhattan, and she and her friends would go crazy over this place. It's cheap, fills you up, and there's little to complain about. If I can't make it to China Town for Chinese New Year at the end of the month, I may try to hike back there.

The weekend finished with some pizza back at the house, Princess Bride on TV, tea, and also an episode or two of Adventure Time.

End of Week Two. Status: I still may be under the impression that I'm a tourist.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

To Eat Meat, or Not to Eat Meat...That has Never Been the Question.

January 22nd-23rd, 2014

I don't know if you recall me sharing this at least a couple of times, but burgers are my favorite food ever.

I heavily debated between getting a tuna burger and a kobe burger. Upon realizing that I'm in fact not a weak-willed vegetarian, but omnivorous, my boss says, "Oh good. I'm glad!" (It was not meant as a slight to vegetarians, but more of an entertaining quip to add when there's nothing else better to say. It worked because I chuckled.)

In housekeeping news, I updated some copyright files of 2013 which involved going on the server and making sure author, year of birth, and various addresses were in order and then pulling two copies of the book in question off the "extra" shelves. I imagine that one copy goes into the copywriters' storage to keep on file forever, but I haven't the faintest idea what the second copy could be for. Maybe someone over there gets to read it. That'd be interesting.

I also went through some recent contracts to write down how many comp-copies (complimentary) go to authors and their agents. More copies than I'd thought. My mom writes books--the literary ones about God, spirituality, and human interactions rather than what I'm working with at DAW--and whenever books come out suddenly her desk is wearing so many of them as a shield you can hardly see it's made of wood at all, but I was uncertain how many actually came from her publishers verses how many she contributed to part of her own salary form them. Now I have a general idea. She still contributes to her own sales because of all the people who help her do these studies and want their own "free" copy that's not included in the contracts, I guess.

Three Mercedes Lackey books had rights sold to make audio books of them. But, the computer didn't have the digital copies of the synopses on the back of them, so that's where I came in. I retyped them. I don't actually know if audio books read out the synopses or if the synopses are just printed on the back of the box, but whichever the case, I helped! It's like when you're five and your mom makes brownies but lets you stir the spoon. It's freaking exciting because you totally helped and those brownies are awesome.

Manuscripts and book reviews keep on coming (awesome), but in between them I also had a little sit-down with my supervisor to discuss my goals and expectations from the internship. I'll be doing some more of that on paper tomorrow (I have a nifty packet to fill out about it, needing signatures and everything!), but I believe some time in the future I will be sitting in on big-wig editor meetings about...stuff. Exciting stuff! Some of it might be like Madmen marketing strategies, but minus Joan's cleavage or the decanters of scotch.

Before I left, toting my new ID Badge swag, I also pinned a Game of Thrones cartoon at my shared desk for the Accountant. I will steadily add more and see if he says anything. He's a House Stark fan, so suddenly he will find the sigils of every other house on my rainbow array of post-it notes. Baratheon today, Arryn or Lannister tomorrow. Haven't decided.

At Torn Page I finally finished the notes for the script Clark gave me to type out, and I also officially met the cat. Her name is Bim; I pet her and we're now best friends if I keep doing it. I ended up sitting in on his wife's rehearsal for a 45 minute one-woman show. She only did part of it, but they were going to a show that night so I actually got to come back to the house early in time for tea.

In this weather, I get to wear my anti-peripheral jacket.

Neat, isn't it? I get to activate my full body swivel to look before crossing the street, and it has all the fashion of an Eskimo and a marshmallow. With their powers combined: I am warm!

My subway adventures also continue, and I am slowly attempting to master not only knowing which direction the train I want is going, but which direction I want to then travel upon reemerging from the earth.

And I got to experience a fire drill once I had intended to be cuddled warm in my bed (not that warm, as fire merits), so naturally the house lemming-ed outdoors, some only in socks. It was the fault of the Mysterious Burnt Popcorn Culprit! I doubt that anyone actually is going to own up to his or her domesticity-fail. The fire department with their trucks and sirens and fire-resistant gear were nice about it, though. Gave us some words of caution as to how best make popcorn in the future. Honestly, don't forget about it and you should be fine. 10 seconds between pops, is another method I'd heard. Otherwise 2 minutes, 30 seconds isn't gonna kill you to stand by. Setting the house on fire, however, might.

You're probably wondering if I'm actually learning anything here, too. You know. Like "school-learning" or classes. To answer your doubts and jealousy, sort of! It's a seminar once a week for six weeks, and I had my first one this week.

We talked about the elements of a short story--or any story, really--and how sometimes stories are broken up into three acts, or five. But ultimately it comes down to these ideas: action, background, development, complication, and end.

Western stories tend to be influenced by the cultural (and religious) model of sin-suffering-redemption. I'd never thought of eastern stories not having that in their story conventions. Clearly I need to familiarize myself with more of them. (Any suggestions?)

My favorite part of the seminar was breaking into two small groups. We pulled together a well known fairy tale and then had to defend the villain in a court of law, or at least explain how the villain could be misconstrued as such, and are actually innocents. The other group did Hansel and Gretel, and we did Little Red Riding Hood. I'm almost embarrassed how few people knew their fairy tales, even the Disney ones, let alone the Brothers Grimm stories. I will admit, however, that I was still entertained to see the realization on their faces that the non-Disney versions were much more grotesque. Spoiler alert: innocence is eaten in fairy tales, even though it is also praised. An unfortunate double standard, even if the victim does get saved at the end.

I've decided that this is a wonderful opportunity to enlighten you to a lesser known fairy tale because Disney hasn't done it: The Juniper Tree.

A woman dies in childbirth and is asked to be buried beneath the juniper tree that she'd prayed under to be given the child to start with, leaving a boy with skin as white as snow and rips as red as roses and hair as black as a raven (a male Snow-White, basically) with his father. The father remarries and that woman has a daughter, Marjory. The Step-Mother is a greedy and terrible person, but the kids grow up like best friends.

Father goes off for the day, and Step-Mother says "Hey boy, there's an apple in that trunk for you. Lean in and get it." He does, but she slams the lid on his neck and decapitates him. To hide her crimes, she ties his head back on with a scarf, and says "Hey Marjory, your brother has an apple for you. You should go get it." Marjory calls for her brother to give her the apple, and he doesn't answer, so she shakes him to pay attention to her. His head rolls off and she's like "OH GOD I KILLED HIM". Step-Mother says "Oh, honey. You messed up bad. Better hide it from Father so he won't hate you forever. We'll just cut your brother up and feed it to Father when he gets home."

They do this, and the Father's like "Wow, dinner's great! It's a shame my son who I love so much ran away this evening..." Marjory doesn't eat anything (because that's gross and she'd vomit anyway), and takes the left over bones to bury beneath the juniper tree and pray over it.

Somehow that transforms her brother into a bird that sings so sweetly, people keep giving it free stuff, like shoes and a gold necklace and boulders. Bird-Brother gives Marjory shoes, his father the gold, and when the Step-Mother is like "Hey you bird! I want free stuff too!" He drops the boulder on her. (Must have been an African Swallow. A European Swallow no way could carry it all by itself.) She doesn't get squished though, she just turns into smoke beneath it and is vanquished. By the time the smoke clears, the bird is a boy again and everyone who was nice from the start lives happily ever after.

Action: Brother is killed
Background: Step Mother is evil, jealous, and greedy
Development: Step Mother feeds the boy to his father and blames Marjory for it who is probably psychologically damaged for life.
Complication: Brother is turned into a sentient bird and forgives everyone but his Step Mother
End: Brother drops a boulder on his Step Mother who dies in a puff of smoke, turning him back into a boy.

See? It has it all! What a cheery, family friendly story! You're welcome.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Let it Snow, Let it SnooOOOw, Can't Hold it Back AnymooOOOre!

January 20th-21st, 2014

For those of you who have not yet grasped my affinity for Disney, the title of this post is to be sung to the tune of "Let it Go" from Frozen.

Yesterday in honor of MLK and no work, I did not get out of bed until at least 11. And when I say "get out of bed" I mean I was sitting in it and on my computer. (Before you make fun of me, I was updating my blog. So THERE. At least I was productive.) The evening I did manage to step out the door for some Argo Tea to meet up with a high school friend I have not seen nor talked to...since...well, since high school. She lives in the city, and now I've got a handy-dandy little list of places that I must go to now. Several of them require subways because she's out of Brooklyn, so I have a little more time before I take on that beast. We walked over to Union Square, which I'd never been save in passing and then I hadn't known what it was, but there is a really depressing neon sign of numbers stretched across one of the buildings. It fluctuates all the time, usually going up than down, and it's apparently showing our national debt.

It must have been a bad omen that many of must-go-to venues needed me to get on a train because the following day I had my first ever subway adventure by myself since being in the city. And you know, in hindsight trains that say "downtown" as in "numbers get smaller"--because as I've previously discussed, that means Southbound--makes a lot of sense. For someone whose only thought is "train place on this street," clearly the first one I run into must be exactly the one I'm looking for, and everything will be great and nothing will go wrong! Well around the time I swiped my metro card, I realized I needed to re-exit and actually go across the street to go uptown/North/growing numbers/MY STREET. Oh and someone pulled the emergency break on the train I did catch. They had to hold a few minutes to figure out why. So that was fun and I paid twice to be on that ride, but I have the consolation that it was still better than either walking or cab fare.

Why did I decide that today would be my subway adventure time? Because no matter which direction you walked outside today, the wind and the BOUNTIFUL FLURRIES IT CARRIED followed you, and there was no escape but underground. It's like when you're at a bonfire and the smoke only follows the asthmatic kid.

(me snow dusted [left] and unfortunately my phone actively ignores falling snow, but it's there. [right])

Besides that, I brought my macaroons into DAW today. I still don't have my ID card, so my quest to befriend the security guard at the front desk lives another day. He did not take a cookie, but he was very appreciative and said "thanks, sweetheart!" But not in the creepy way, more like in the I-will-always-look-12-years-old way.

Office work-wise, I pretty much spent my day looking at quotes about new DAW books featured in recent magazines. Some critics were harsher than others, but most were very nice. One critic I swear, though, is Paula Abdul's pen name because she loved everybody and didn't have a single hard word to say about anything, and was clearly very excited to read fantasy and SF books for her job (Who wouldn't? Fun-haters, that's who).

So looking and logging was Part A of the quote job; Part B entailed going on the server and updating cool quotes to be used for media marketing.

Many people were ducking out early because of the snow that was showing (and still is if I look outside my window) no sign of slowing, but before I head out I had two tasks. I could have taken them to the house, I'm sure, but there are few locations more enticing for productivity than an office, so I stayed. Firstly, the Pub Newsfeed.

Basically I searched for recent news in the publishing world that is worth a read or a skim for publishers of fantasy and SF. All I have to do is find about five sources, write 1-2 sentence blurbs about them, then email them out to the office. Most of them were about eBooks and either how awesome they are or how much money they're losing.

Secondly, and my favorite part of the day, manuscript reading! I even got through the first hundred pages before my usual end-time. I only stayed over a couple minutes to write out my notes, then into the blizzard I went. (Fun fact: "Let it Go" just came on my iTunes and this entertains me.)

Only real bummer is that I had originally planned this evening to go to Bubby's Burgers and actually eat a burger (long disappointing story as to why I had been there once before and did not get a burger), and meet a couple housemates out there in SoHo. That, however, was snow-checked because it is in exactly the opposite direction from the house and nobody wanted to do that. Next time, burgers, next time.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Week One Status: Survived!

January 17th-19th

Because I had been blessed with practically two reading days before, Friday meant a lot of forms. Specifically for i09. (I did not previously know what this stands for nor what it is, but have since looked it up and apparently it's a blog started in 2008 that is geared towards fantasy, science fiction, and advances in science and technology. Neat.)

Basically what the i09 meant for me was making a list of all the books published by DAW for 2014 and arrange them in a chart by title, author, publishing date, publisher, age group, genre, and a brief summary. There were about 40 entries, all new and no reprints, though there were plenty of those as well. Towards the December end of the list some texts were still untitled, which is kind of cool because it gives you another glimpse to the behind the scenes part of making books. This experience also made me much more familiar with the DAW database that catalogs any and every bit of information they have about any book they've published or will publish within the foreseeable future.

I also hunted through the authors on the 2013 list for those living in the Pacific Northwest. There is an award given to the best author of SF/fantasy of the year for any authors living in that part of the US and Canada, and all they require from DAW is a list of names, five copies of every book qualified, and then somebody wins the award and $1000. I only pulled two names, but good luck you two!

Later (because the first two tasks took up most of the day) I looked through some catalogs for typos, and also looked around the shelves that I'd helped restock earlier that week. Why? Every so often, books are reprinted and there needs to be consideration taken about the cost effectiveness of new covers. I have never paid great attention to how different book covers are, not in art but in "effect".

Gloss is standard and means "no-effect" (and pretty much is just a flat, shiny surface).
Matte is the opposite.
Spot-gloss means part of the cover is shiny, whether it is the title, the author's name, or a specific character in the art meant to stand out.
Emboss means textured, or raised titles or something like a stamp.
Foil is a metallic leafing that's put usually over titles or author names.

I have now come to a higher appreciation for the printing process because it sounds way too complicated for the amount of books produced with all these different effects.

Fridays are great. Unless you want to go outside. If you have any regard for personal space or the air that you breathe, going outside on the streets of NYC between about 5:00 and 7:00 when everybody is getting off work to go home for the weekend, it is intense and don't do it.

I was actually meeting one of my high school friends at the bus station, and it turned out to be slightly more of a struggle than it should have --not just with foot traffic either; if the bus had let him off he probably could have walked to the station faster than the traffic was allowing the bus to move. I also accidentally walked into about five weed-clouds, which was four more than the average of the total week--so some people are really glad it's the weekend.

Actually, I was going to go home for a night or two this weekend. My mom signed us up for a one-day cooking class to make French macaroons. I had thought my friend was taking the bus back to his school that evening, but he doesn't start back until after MLK, and was in fact going back to our home town. Why not hop the bus with him? I only surprised my parents a little, and the response I got from my mother was:

"Ohhh!!! Awesome!!! But now I must clean!!!"

Because I've never seen my house messy ever, apparently. I love my mother, even when she's silly like that.

So not only can I now make some pretty delicious macaroons (at home after the class I ended up making a batch of lemon ones with lime butter cream. Jealous? Yes. Of course you are.), but I will be getting my DAW security badge next week. That does put a damper on befriending the security guard at the desk since I will no longer have a legit excuse to go over there. Bummer. I'll give him a macaroon on Tuesday as a parting gift, I suppose.

(Look how CUTE IT IS!!!)

I've also decided that my current favorite place to eat is a Japanese teriyaki  place near the house. Sweet, a little spice, and a big bottle of sriracha if you like it hotter. My friend and I ate there, and I witnessed his teriyaki bowl turn into soup with the amount of hot sauce he smothered over it. This place is also apparently known for their burgers, which I'm stoked about.

My supervisor at DAW and I actually bonded over the fact that burgers are our favorite food. We also share fandoms like Sherlock and Legend of Korra. Clearly she's awesome and I think I'm gonna like this place.

Torn Page

January 15th - 16th (Torn Page)

Torn Page is located in a house on 22nd and 9th, and it actually reminds me a little of my house because they seem to have been built in roughly the same decade of late 19th century. From old polished floorboards to double-pained windows to big sliding wood doors to a narrow, semi-winding staircase--everything about this house speaks to its character. What it does have that is not in my house is a real Disney clay model of Zeus from Hercules. Right there on the stairwell landing on the second floor. Straight from Disney studios, molded by actual animators.

I'll give you three guesses why it's there, and you won't need the first two if you've read my first blog post. For those of you who haven't: Rip Torn co-founded Torn Page with Geraldine Page, no proceeded by their son Tony, and Rip Torn also so happens to be the voice actor of Zeus.

Fun fact: I'm a huge Disney-geek. So this is kind of a big deal. I played it cool though. I just get to pass by this foot high Zeus-statue every Wednesday and Thursday. Which is excellent.

Tony's friend and co-worker Clark is actually who I'll be working with most of the time, I think. He's teaching a screen acting class, but that doesn't start until the first week of February--so coming up!

In the mean time he showed me a rough of a script that needed retyped. That poor script, too, was so black and blue with ink it really did look beat up.

Usually I'll be in the office until much later, but on day one I got out early enough for Tony to get me a ticket to see his show, The Disinherited. It's a Chekhov piece that he put an AA/alcoholism spin on, and was playing only a couple blocks away at The Kitchen. Chekhov is a hard writer to have make sense, and while Tony's cast executed the language in an interesting way, it was the technical aspect of the show that impressed me the most.

The set looks like the wrong side of a dollhouse, so you're looking in through windows and doors and can never see all of the action at once. But that only takes up half the proscenium, and the rest of it is covered by a projection screen.

Two camera people follow the action around the dollhouse so that it's like watching a live movie with all the subtitles on screen, but you can choose to look at the close ups that the camera person is getting of the actors faces, or you can look at the stage to see the real "wide-screen" and side action.

The next day I spent pretty much all my office time trying to work on the script. I was the last one there, and ended up only having a handful of pages left to do for the weekend. But before I left, there was a cat suddenly staring at me from the door.

I love cats. I'm sure I'm in a category of people who might become cat ladies, but it is a slightly different experience when you were unaware that this office had a cat in it, especially one that looked like it had been a street fighter.

A black cat with big yellow-green eyes, a poodle hair cut on one of its paws, a missing tail, and rumpled fur. I was unsure if it actually belonged there or if it decided to pop in a crack in a wall or an open window or something, and stray cats in a big city are often associated with about as many diseases as a park squirrel; I kept my distance just in case. Also, I confess, I'm only slightly superstitious and to find a black cat out of no where alone in an old house--that may well be haunted anyway given its age--definitely made me a little more awake than I had been.

Turns out she's just a really old cat, tail removed a decade ago, and paw shaved a little from an IV she needed last month: she does in fact live in this building.

Next time I will pet this poor creature and because I pass a pet store everyday on the way to my internship, in lieu missing my own cat I may cave and buy this one treats of some kind. She looks like she deserves such things.

Manuscripts: Make it Rain

January 15th - 16th (DAW)

I got to work with manuscripts. Yes, manuscriptS. As in more than one. Two of them. Specifically one partial manuscript and one full, but they were from two different authors and my mind is still blown that I get to look at ANY!

I walked in and right there on the accountant's desk midst his Game of Thrones cartoon paraphernalia and editorial pen buckets was a note for me to take a look at this partial manuscript.

Manuscripts are raw books; unpolished stories and worlds and people that are inked onto sheets of tree pulp, and if you don't think that's cool then you're wrong. Because it's amazing. Few people get to experience raw books because it's possibly the closest you'll get to a writer's soul. And an editor's job is to tell the author how to make his or her soul-fragment more aesthetic for public consumption.

My reading task was only paused twice. Once, it was because several boxes of books had come in, some to ship out, but most to replenish the office shelves. The shelves must have at least two copies of every new book, plus about five or so extra copies on the opposite shelf. Therefore, finding space for all of them can be...interesting. My supervisor told me that she didn't think that all the books would fit. Luckily all my packing going to and from college has made me sort of a pro at Stuff-Tetris. So I would MAKE them fit.

BAM. Fit that last book on the shelf. BAM. Slapped the last mailing label on the box right as the mail guy came to take it away. I am awesome. You can laugh, but it's like being a Mundane Superhero equipped with onomatopoeia bubbles for terms like BAM. Like making a yellow light before it turns red. There's joy found in small triumphs over evil. Evil like spacial intelligence and traffic regulations that do not always allow you the right of way.

The second time the reading task was delayed was when a new manuscript arrived, one that was time sensitive because it was being bid on by another publishing house.

It's over 700 pages, and I got to read an agent's query on the email too, which was cool. Also, I can't seem to put it down. It's well written (with the exception of a few lines, but nobody's perfect or the editor would be obsolete), well paced, and really clever world building that reminded me of Brandon Sanderson's books. And I got to check it out first! The real editors will look at it too, of course, but I still think it's amazing that I get to do this for school credit. And it's a real job. With money. And health benefits. I also have a special place in my heart for my red pen.

I did finish the partial manuscript and handed it and some notes off to the real editor, but of the two the other story was my favorite. That in mind, DAW ended up rejecting it.

Why did it get rejected if it's super good?! Well there's something to be said--a lot actually--for the specific taste of an editor. It doesn't fit her style, maybe. Doesn't mean it's bad.

That's the optimism of the writing world; it's why authors send their ink-babies to a bunch of different publishers. One rejection, or two, or three don't mean your book is necessarily bad. Just maybe not what one publisher is looking for.

There's a book called Amish Vampires in Space. You can look it up on Amazon. It's real. And published. By a publishing company. I will admit I've not read it, but the point is that title alone there would be publishers who think "there is NO CHANCE that's gonna be good enough to sell," but somebody else liked it, so it doesn't matter.

So no, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you are not our only hope. We just have to do a little research (eerily similar to college or job hunting) on our own to see where our stories will fit best.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Orientation The Sequel: Advisers

January 14th, 2014

Gathered together in a basement room of the Fashion Institute, the young agents students of the NYAP Spring semester were briefed on necessary rules and regulations regarding seminars and classroom etiquette, and the expectations of what each of the teams would be doing via documentation of the NY experience (ah-HA my blog is useful!) and final projects. Due next week: statement of my goals.

Goals? But I'd already decided to be too open minded to have these "goals". I'll just do whatever I'm asked and everything will be awesome and nothing will go wrong! FALSE. That is actually a blatant lie I may or may not have told myself.

That state of thinking bastardizes what open mindedness is meant for, and covers (poorly) the fact that I have no idea what I'm doing. (It is my consolation that that is exactly what I'm here for, actually. It's what most all of us are here for. What the heck are we doing with ourselves?)

My laid-back and calm facade discovered, I suppose I should figure out what exactly I want beyond "experiencing my English major in a professional setting" because, let's be real, that's too vague to function productively.

I want to love editing. Problem: love cannot be forced, so worst case scenario is that I don't love it, and that definitive result is just as good, so I'll take it! (Just means that I'll go exploring somewhere else. Again, worst case scenario.)

I want to make professional contacts. Good! Useful. (I can pretend I'm not socially awkward for fifteen weeks, right?) Mostly, who DOESN'T like stability or back up plans? Few first jobs out of college are what you're looking for as a dream job, I understand that reality. Contacts can help me in two ways: 1, skip some of the lamer jobs that don't fit my interests, or 2, find me something that will at least pay me until I find what I like. Cuz you gotta have friends! Da da da da da da da da da friends...! (I'm not sorry.)

I want to befriend the security guard at DAW. He just seems like a nice guy who deserves cookies. I don't know why. I get that needs-cookies-vibe from him.

I want to know how to get places and be navigation-savvy.

I want to be able to know where all the good/cheap places to eat are so I don't flounder non committal statements about where to go when asked.

I want to go to the Met and ask the curator about the science behind art forgery to help my research for a senior project about Han van Meegeren when I go back to school.

I want to cook non-instant food in one of the tiny kitchens in my building, but make it delicious.

I want to have seen 10 shows by the end of the semester without going broke in the process.

That'll do for now-- Don't let's be greedy, and eight ain't bad. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Wide Eyes, Big City

January 10th - 13th, 2014

Step one to reaching your destination on time: placate the weather god so not to have ice rain. My 1:00 appointment became my 2:30 appointment, but it worked out well anyway. On the second highest floor on not nearly the tallest tower in NYC, I now live out of a quad with only one other person, a very pleasant painter from Texas. The stairs, however, I fondly refer to as Fat Camp's Revenge. The good thing is that by the time you're thinking "Oh god they never end!" you've reached my floor, and you thank your lucky stars and your remaining breath that you're not one of the people one more level up. (I also say this as someone quite out of shape and for whom burgers are a favorite food. On the brief subject of food, my favorite restaurant title I've seen in the city thus far is the "Loving Hut: vegan cuisine," because very few things could be more passive aggressive.)

My acting friend from school arrived the next day, and we took to wandering the city in what turned out to be about a four hour drunken circle (we were sober) back to the house. On the way, we sort of got lost through Times Square, Midtown Comics, Grand Central, and Madison Square Park, among other places, and it only poured for the last twenty minutes of our travels. My shoes may possibly dry out by next weekend.

Between the stairs and the wanderlust, it turns out my body didn't hate me enough to stop me from getting up the next day to pretty much do it all again. This time, with my brother.

My brother is my favorite person in the world, and it saddens me that not every sibling can have that kind of relationship. The commitment that we put into being there to love and to torment one another is almost as strong as our commitment to ticket reservations on Broadway. The latter, actually, was the reason for my brother's visit, though it certainly helps that he himself is a New Yorker.

Because I love my parents and my parents love Groupons, I got two tickets to see Peter and the Starcatcher on its last night. Naturally, my brother was my first pick for ticket number-two. Not only can I make a notch under my 10-show-quota, but it was a wonderful performance! The show acts as a prequel to Peter Pan, though it takes some liberties to tweak the story some to keep it interesting, too. I had felt that act one dragged a bit compared to the fast-paced action of act two and that perhaps the climax was a little underwhelming, but despite that the show was excellent. Peter Pan held a balance between a little brat and an endearing child, Captain Hook stole the stage with a fearsome and incredibly flamboyant air, and I have quite a soft spot for puns and story references.

As for navigating the city, I think I'm starting to get it. Numbers increase north and west, and decrease south and east. Name-streets are thrown in there just to mess with you. And to get to DAW from my house (I know that's what we've all been waiting for in this blog), just take a right and go straight on till morning! Or like thirty-some minutes until you're half a block or so past the Dunkin Donuts--that actually works better.

Despite walking into an internship for fantasy and science fiction, I felt very grown-up in my office attire and 1930s-esque blue suede pumps.

The building, I'm certain, is designed to both intimidate and make its workers feel incredibly important. If the outside of it is not made of dark, polished stone, then the rest of it is made of gigantic glass walls that shifts into spinning doors in three symmetrical locations. Inside, the space has a high ceiling and is made of more polished stone that would echo like a train station, except nobody is that loud. Down the long, narrow rug, past the huge rectangles of art-deco that are lost in the empty space of the walls to make you feel even smaller, is a large wooden desk. By the NYC standard of congested space, I'd bet a half a dozen people could work behind that desk. Instead, there is one security guard (the same one that was there when I had my interview, which is cool. He probably has some really awesome take-down stories of book-fans who just couldn't wait for the release date. I have another goal: I want to be friends with this security guard by the end of my internship. I want to know these stories).

To access the rest of the building, I had to give the security guard my name, my ID, who I was visiting, and from which department. He rang up to double check my claim, then handed me a day pass that I scan at the gate around the corner from his desk with all his video monitors that reflected back at you in the polished wall behind him, and then I could get to the elevators that would take me to the appropriate floor. Then, I reach waiting room number-two and ask the secretary to ring for the person I'm meeting, followed by my contact meeting me to personally escort me to the real office.

I will eventually get a pass that will skip through at least eight of those nine-hundred steps to office admittance.

Once at DAW, I was seated in a cubical that I will give back to the accountant on Tuesdays and Thursdays and share with the part-time intern from NYU some days. I've not met her yet, but she's more interested in cover art, which sounds awesome.

I was given six magazines to peruse for anytime one of them name-dropped DAW. (Two Locus, two RT, and two PW.) Anytime DAW is mentioned in one of the magazines, I had to highlight it and mark it with a sticky-note. Anything from book releases to reviews had to be noted, and reviews have to be copied off. I don't have the pass that allows me to use the photocopier, so my supervisor actually does that part still.

Then, I was tasked with finding ten review quotes about a Seanan McGuire series that was being featured in a promo-booklet. There was a new book coming out, and so DAW wanted to push the earlier seven books of the series to hook more readers into the fandom before the release. One of the quotes I pulled offline was from Felicia Day, which is cool. Though somehow I'm not surprised Felicia Day enjoys novels that feature a private investigating, half-faerie badass. I would.

Next, from the same author-different series, a book was on a pre-release to a specific list of reviewers to help build hype online before the actual release. I packed and labeled all eighteen packages myself! Some books went to SF reviews, others to specialists of smutty-romance, others to fantasy, and others to places like Publishers Weekly, and those readers are the ones pretty much responsible for most of the editorial reviews you'd find on Amazon.

After that, it was called a day. Because I had orientation at the house, I actually ended up leaving an hour earlier than I would normally. Regardless it didn't feel like I was at the office very long at all! The coolest part--other than the fact they feed me when I'm there, which is an unbelievably sweet deal--is that next time I'll be working with REAL manuscripts! I'll also be responsible for assembling five articles about current events in the publishing-world and sending them out to people in the office. I've never been up-to-date on my current events, so this will be interesting.

So far, very exciting for in hindsight sounds like "boring office work". So good sign for me, maybe?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

City Bound

January 9th, 2014

      Tomorrow I head out--not by train, but by car--to New York City. I will be spending my spring semester with the New York Arts Program (NYAP).

      What is that? It's an opportunity for students of the fine arts to explore their passions in a professional setting from intensive acting classes and live performances to managing a show at an art gallery (or being in one) to creative writing with slam poets, or anything else on that spectrum. Coming from a liberal arts school, for me it's also a chance to pretend I'm somewhere between a conservatory for my major and participating the "real world" (post-college). AKA: a fifteen-week long internship.

      For the next fifteen weeks starting January 13th and ending April 26th, I will be interning at DAW Books, a publishing company that specializes in fantasy and science fiction writings, a company which also shares the building and publicity of Penguin Publishing. I'm sure there are other distinctions and/or intersections between the two, but those details I'll have to work out after day one.

      Additionally, I've a part-time internship with Torn Page, formerly named Page 22 Studios. This studio was founded by Geraldine Page and Rip Torn, proceeded by their son, and my soon-to-be-boss, Tony Torn. I've never been great at remembering celebrity names, but for all you Disney fans out there like me, Geraldine Page voiced Medusa from The Rescuers and Rip Torn voiced Zeus in Hercules. He is also Zed from Men in Black if you want a face-to-name reference.

      I will be working at DAW every weekday, and two nights a week I will also devote a chunk of my time to Torn Page, as well as occasional weekends for putting on shows. My understanding is that DAW will have me doing both some generic office duties as well as editorial ones, and that Torn Page will use me for some secretarial needs as well as sitting in on a screen acting class--in which I can choose to join in on activities or not. Let's be real, though, I'd be stupid not to. Greater detail in job descriptions will have to be determined after this next week.

      I applied to the NYAP to experience what my English major in a professional setting might be like, and to find out whether or not editing is a career I'd eventually like to pursue. If I love it, that's great! Then I'll hope that the contacts I make allow me to stay here, if not at DAW, then in the publishing/writing world elsewhere. If I don't like it--well, I'll burn that bridge when I get to it. Or cross it. God knows... It's all quite terrifying for someone graduating next year.

     Who am I: I am a Theatre and English double major with a Renaissance Studies minor I picked up by accident; I go to school in the mid-west, though I live on the east coast; I will be working in New York City between two internships and a big writing-related project; and my recreational goal is to have seen 10 shows in the city before my fifteen weeks are up (without going broke in the process).

      Heart pounding, fingers crossed, and prepared to break BOTH legs, I pack for my life in the city.