New website project launch: DiannaSanchez.com

On Friday, I officially launched my latest website project: an author website for children’s book author Dianna Sanchez, whose debut novel A Witch’s Kitchen is forthcoming in a month from indie YA publisher Dreaming Robot Press. Check out the site!

Backstory: Two months ago, I put out a call to the Universe (via Facebook) for some freelance work. Among the respondents (and there were a few, thank you, Universe) was an old friend from my MIT circles who needed a spiffy new website to go with her first book’s upcoming publication. She had set up a starter website back in April, in WordPress, but it was… rudimentary. (I’d say “basic” but that word has acquired problematic cultural overtones in the last ~5 years.) I never took a screenshot of it, but now I wish I had for posterity, because like most people I love before-and-after stories!  Continue reading

Reboot!

Since my last post in January, dear readers, I have:

  • Gotten married (February)
  • Quit my job in NYC in order to move back to northwest Indiana, into my new husband’s house, 15 miles from my hometown and 40 miles from downtown Chicago (April)
  • Logged almost 8,000 miles in the Ford Focus, across 17 states and including 7 national parks, on a 6-week Epic Roadtrip Honeymoon (late May through early July)

Needless to say, it’s been an eventful 6 months!

We came home on July 4, after which I started working in earnest on updating my resume and combing online listings for jobs that might suit my skill set.

Besides submitting job applications, most of what I worked on last week was some developmental and copy editing on a new musical by a good friend in NYC. The book is still in process, but preliminary recordings of selected songs can be heard here.

I’ve also got a book project in progress (typesetting a Hebrew translation of a children’s book, which is a first for me; more on that after it’s completed), some inquiries about new website projects, and some other creative design projects in the works.

In the coming weeks, I’m looking forward to making some updates both to this blog and to my website in order to share some more of my recent work.

Know someone who wants my day job?

Happy 2014!

Well, since I last posted (literally a few days after my last post), I got engaged to an incredible guy from back home — the Chicago area, specifically northwest Indiana, one town over from where I grew up. This is someone I have known (and been various degrees of madly in love with) for almost 20 years, which is actually a fantastic story for which this is not altogether the place. :-)

The point is, in early April I’ll be moving back to the Chicago area into his house there. This means that my current employer needs to replace me and is trying to find a moderately experienced Webmaster/Social Media Associate to start in March.

Anyone in the NYC area interested in a full-time position that combines technical skills (HTML), graphic design chops (Adobe Creative Suite), and general social media savvy, please check out the following listings and apply as directed:

http://www.ramaz.org/public/jobs.cfm#webmaster
https://jewishjobs.com/jobs/view/27019

(Some knowledge of Hebrew and Jewish culture is EXTREMELY helpful, but not strictly required.)

Feel free to share this with any likely candidates of your acquaintance!

As for myself, I expect to be looking for a graphics-related job in the NWI region, as well as bumping up my freelance work and joining the family consulting business. But not until April (or possibly July). In the meantime, I will have a few, er, wedding-related design posts to make, so stay tuned. (Space ketubahs!)

My long-awaited big book project: Embattled Farmers

Embattled FarmersSo, remember the giant book production project that was eating my life from about November to April? It is really, truly, for realsies DONE and published!

So now it can be told: The book is called Embattled Farmers, by Richard C. Wiggin, published by the Lincoln (MA) Historical Society. ISBN: 978-0-944856-10-9 hardcover; 978-0-944856-11-6 paperback. And I did the text and cover design and production (i.e., decided what everything should look like and then laid it out).

Fundamentally, it’s a collection of biographical profiles of the 252 individuals serving in the Revolutionary War who were natives, residents, or in any other wise associated with the town of Lincoln, Massachusetts. This undertaking alone required a massive research commitment, investigating and cross-checking primary and secondary sources all over the region. But the book goes a step beyond those individual statistics, pulling together a surprisingly cohesive narrative from the webs of relationships to the cultural fabric of a small and close-knit New England town at a time of great crisis and upheaval.

The official launch date was Monday, April 15, otherwise known in Massachusetts as Patriots’ Day, not to mention Marathon Monday. I actually had never heard what the final arrangements would be for the big launch event (once it was established that I wasn’t going to be able to get up to Boston for it in any case); and then with the bombings at the Boston Marathon, speaking of crisis and upheaval, I didn’t follow up to ask how things had turned out. But today I got an email from Rick (the author) with the following great news:

The National Park came in with a big order, as did several other shops, museums, historical sites in the area. And I moved a number of books in and around the various Patriots Day events last weekend and the weekend before. The Boston Globe ran an article about the book a week ago. And I’ve been getting phone calls from people wanting the book, from as far away as Amsterdam, NY. By the Launch Party last Monday, I had moved about 80 books. For the Launch Party, we had 290 people show up, and we sold 95 books that night. And since then, I have received restocking orders from 2 of the sites that are carrying it. Hard covers are not likely to arrive for another week and a half, and we have already taken orders for about 1/3 of them. So for all intents and purposes, we have just about sold out our initial print run. I’m doing my best not to let my 15 minutes of fame go to my head. But the Historical Society is ecstatic, to say the least! They have authorized a second print run, which I’d like to get into the works before we actually do run out of our dwindling inventory.

I’m personally very pleased with the way this book came out. At 592 pages (and 157 illustrations), it ended up being at least 20% longer and 100% more complicated than either Rick or I ever anticipated. But I truly believe that in its final form it’s achieved the status of a very important work of scholarship, and I’m proud of my role (technical as it may have been) in helping bring it together.

… Now if only there were a link to order it online! But folks in the Boston MetroWest area can check it out in the following venues:

And eventually I’ll manage to post a sample of the text along with the cover on my portfolio page. In the meantime, however, I would just like to note that the book does already have its own Facebook page. Talk about culture shock.

On burnout

Some friends of Tiger Boy’s have a regular games night. I went with him one night several weeks ago, and what we played when I got there was Frank’s Zoo.

I’d never heard of it. “It’s fun,” they said. “It’s a trick-taking game.” Crap, I thought. Well, I ought to at least be a good sport and try it.

What I knew from before was that I cannot play trick-taking games. Not just “suck at,” although I do, but literally “cannot play” — because they stress me out enough that it simply is no longer playing.

What was interesting to notice on this particular occasion was that it stressed me out in essentially the same ways that my job had been stressing me out. Strategizing. Prioritizing. Being supposed to keep track of a dozen factors, their relative weights, and — oh yeah — when not to play the thing that looks obvious because it might be better used down the road, if I could think far enough ahead (and understand enough of the relevant factors) to predict what that would be. Or then again, not. Duh.

Add this to the cold I was acutely fighting off, and the general run-down exhausted feeling I’d had for a couple of weeks, and… it really pushed my buttons. It was totally fascinating to observe (in a third-party kind of way) myself approaching the verge of a nervous breakdown. I had to get up from the table for a few minutes to escape to the bathroom and try to collect myself.

I just now took the “Are You Burned Out?” quiz du jour, putting in the answers from the past several weeks, and I got 68%. “You are very burned out. You need a huge break from your responsibilities, starting as soon as possible. And you need this time to reevaluate what you really want out of your life. Because you’re working hard and going no where… and that would burn anyone out!”

Luckily, I figured that out in the interim — and have taken the appropriate steps.

Yesterday was my first official day of full-time self-employment. Today, I had a massage in the morning (yay!) and a really energizing screening interview with PSG in the afternoon.

Tonight, there’s another games night.
I think I’m ready. :-D