Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New, Smarter, Faster, Stronger?

New computers are supposed to make life easier, right? Right?


My office, and my life, has exploded into chaos and nighmare.

Yes, I have three desks and yes, they are all packed with manuscripts and computer software. Not to mention that the tangled mass of chords under my desk---which were so neatly organized before---is seriously messing with my OCD.

The tech guys were on my boss's computer until after 7 last night and are coming back again today. My boss asks eighteen questions every time she clicks her mouse. Poor guys.

Easy as pie.

Friday, January 22, 2010

I’m a Running Celebrity

Not really, but it’s fun to think so.

I ran a 5-mile race last weekend with my friend. I thought I was crawling along at a 12-minute/mile pace (seriously, little kids and people pushing 300-pound strollers were passing me), but it turns out that I had a pretty strong time of 42:23 or 8:29 per mile. Pizza and beer at 2 am the night before probably didn't help. My friend, of course, won his age division with a time of 32:32. The punk.

There’s still one race left in this three race series and then on to a half marathon. Check it: http://www.winterdistanceseries.com/.

Some photos from my most recent race. Beware: I’m not a “pretty” or “glamorous” runner. And sorry about the watermarks---I'm poor.

Notice the awesome sunglasses? That’s because I still have a black eye. It’s stellar.

And since we’re on the topic of running pictures, I’m going old-school on you. Here’s a picture from an 8-mile trail race I did back in 2008.

Damain and his crazy German antics crack me up to this day. Then there’s Amber right on our heels shouting that we’re out of shape and slow.

This is why running is so awesome—it's a good workout surrounded by great people. What else can a girl ask for?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Be Careful What You Wish For

I’m going to be honest: I have always wanted a black eye. Seriously. It’s been a life goal of mine… until I got one.

Kyle (my roomie) had a black eye last Tuesday. I came home, saw it, and instantly exclaimed my jealousy. He offered to punch me in the face for one but I declined. (In retrospect, I should've taken him up on the offer.) Then that Friday at my soccer game I took a header to the perfect spot in the face and the fun started.

The progression:

See, usually I'm kinda cute and, well, normal looking.

Then I got hit at indoor soccer. I had plans to go out that night for my friend's birthday so despite the eye I had to go.

Hamming it up for the camera. My eye is so swollen I can barely see.

Love these girls! Happy b-day, Em.

Just your average one-eyed pool shark.

By Monday, the bruising had fully colored into this.

And by Wednesday (today) it is now various colors of the rainbow---and can be spotted from a half mile away.

Not only that, but the blood has drained into my eye so I now look demonic. (And my apologies for looking so awful. My boss is out of town which means I'm lucky if I change out of my sweats in the morning.)

Despite all the stares, the most fun is seeing everyone's reactions. It's a sociological study. Some of my favorite responses:
  • I was walking outside the building to go for a run when a man saw me and literally crossed himself. Apparently I'm the devil.
  • A coworker walked up and asked, very seriously, "Claire, is everything okay at home?"
  • Another coworker suggested this book to me: Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them. Thanks, but I won't be needing that on my shelf.
  • Our receptionist thought that if the bruising didn't go below my eye, it'd be a helluva makeup job.
  • Our UPS man, however, instantly figured out that it was soccer and starting diving into war stories of his own.
The best part of this? Hearing everyone else's war stories. The worst part? Constant pity looks. I can't go to the grocery store or the gym without "the look." So I guess I have to run outside, with sunglasses on, and eat pasta for the next week. Fun times.

It's a little vision into our culture:
Guys' injuries=badass
Girls' injuries=domestic violence

Be careful what you wish for.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It's The Little Things

I got a package today...

Guess what was inside?

They're so shiny and pretty.

I'm gonna have to plow through some muddy puddles; and soon.

It's the little things.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Day in the Life

When I tell people that I work in academic publishing, they mostly give a blank stare and respond with, "Oh, that's nice." Conversation over. Mostly because they have no idea what my job entails or what I do. So, I'm going to put you in my shoes at the office.

Today: M-lists and Transmittals.

First of all, my apologies for the horrible quality of the photos. Again, all pictures were taken with my camera phone. Remember that cute little camera I've been coveting? Yeah... still working on that. (New running shoes have been a priority.)

To begin: The Master List, or m-list. The m-list is a printed report of all our current projects. I update this database every two weeks (give or take). It is considered our company bible because every department refers to it multiple times a day. It includes the author's name(s), full title, MCD (manuscript completion date), print run, final available date (when the book is printed), price, ISBN, Library of Congress number, series information, and any additional information. Whew! And yes, this is all important for various reasons.

Transferring the changes from multiple sources on to a single list.

You know the movie and book, The Devil Wears Prada? Yeah, that's my life. Seriously. My boss judges my outfits every day. Her mood is directly dependent on whether or not she has enough water and if the humidifier is on. If I'm on the phone with an author she'll run out of the office waving her hands and passing notes of what I should say. And then there's the little things like how she prefers only large paper clips---the little ones annoy her. The good side of things? She doesn't talk down to me... unless I royally f-up, of course, but then it's deserved. And I honestly like the challenge of it. Demanding, yes, but I hope that it makes me a stronger person. Luckily I have very thick skin.

A more fashionable version of my life.

You know in the movie where Andy perfectly fans out her boss's magazines? I do the same thing with my boss's m-lists. In the stack: LRP m-list, availability list, editor reports.

Next Up: Transmitting a manuscript. When we get a final manuscript in the office we must "transmit" it over to the production department so that they can turn it into a pretty book. This includes going through every page of the manuscript to find any possible problems and edit mistakes.

The manuscript comes in. Incredibly anxious authors often spend an arm and a leg to overnight the package and then immediately e-mail me asking if it has arrived.

Going through the manuscript---all 600 pages of it. I have a system going on here.

I make a copy of the table of contents (ToC) and write all the problems and errors with the manuscript and include a "cast-off."

This manuscript was pretty clean. With new manuscripts and authors, my notes can often run onto another page. It is a second edition of one of our popular textbooks, so the author has got it down by now. A "cast-off" is what we use to determine the number of completed book pages from the manuscript pages. The formula is as follows:

# of manuscript pages x (# of characters x # of lines) / 3000 = # of book pages

If the author doesn't do their part, transmittals can be one of the most frustrating parts of the job. I've often gotten manuscripts where the pages aren't numbered so I have to hand number everything; the chapters are out of order or missing; the manuscript is ridden with typos---spell check, anyone?; they staple the pages with industrial-strength staples that take a crowbar to remove; their contents don't remotely match what's in the manuscript; etc, etc.

So there ya have it. There are just two pieces of my job. As I often tell people, publishing is not like accounting---you can't just take a class and now what to do. It is very much a "guild" business is which you learn by doing it. And, most of all, we aren't just in our reading glasses pouring through books all day. Like any successful business, it is mostly administrative work. I'll keep updating with other aspects of what I do---unless y'all are bored to death and scream at me to stop.

And, just to prove I do other things than work... sometimes... I successfully made a vegetarian rustic pie, including the pie crust, from scratch! Hurrah!