Fitness experiment and other updates

‘Sup ink splAters.

You may remember that a few weeks ago (“Be it resolved”) I decided to test a fitness book, Shape Up Size Down by Sally Lewis. I am now halfway through the four-week plan and I’m certainly impressed.

I’m down a dress size already, and while I will note that I’ve combined the required workouts with 40 minutes/day on the stationary bike, I’m surprised at the positive results. Not only does this program slim and tone, it also helps with posture. Another big plus that I didn’t fully appreciate before is the variety of the program. Because I get the chance to concentrate on specific areas of the body each day, and with different exercises, I’m never bored.  So far, I’m giving it an enthusiastic endorsement.

That being said, it’s certainly not perfect. It doesn’t give much detail as to how you are supposed to continue with the plan after the four weeks is up – designing a program for maintenance rather than weight loss. Also, the big sell of this book was that it took only 20 minutes a day (actually, 2 10-minute workouts a day). I’ve been doing it for 17 days and I can tell you that there is no way someone can do those exercises in that short a time. Half an hour, maybe, if you’re familiar with each exercise. I take about 40 minutes, especially now that the number of exercises per day has increased.

Still, I have high hopes for the next week and a half. Barring my fitness ball catching on fire, I’m sure these last 11 days will be smooth (and svelte) sailing.

Other Updates

Work placement is over. It was wonderful, and I’m extremely happy to announce that I will be working part-time with the press. I’m as happy as… um… the winner of  a  giant-pile-of-coloured-marshmallows eating competition. Or… uh… the person who gets the corner piece of a cake with delicious icing. Or… hm… a cat that discovers she can fit in an open sock drawer.

“Work placement is over” means that I am back at school. Pressure is on to work on my book, which has suffered a bit these last couple weeks, and I’m sorting out the workload of a barrel of new classes. “How many classes are in a barrel?” you ask. Umm. Four. Plus PR. It’s a fairly small barrel.

There’s likely more, but I’m writing an article so I’ve got to be responsible and close the blog window.

Happy Wednesday.

Number Steaksauce and other random collections of words

Hello ink splAt-ers,

Sorry for the lack of posts recently. After spending all day on the computer I’ve found that I don’t feel like going near one when I get home. “Suck it up. You’re supposed to keep us updated,” I can hear you say, and of course you’re right (though sort of rude). So I shall now update you on the wild and wonderful world of publishing, and my soon-to-be-completed internship.

First of all, I friggin’ love this job. Design, promotions, proofing, news releases, and web pages have filled my days and in addition to providing me with a stack of things to put in my portfolio, which is always a plus, it’s exactly what I hoped I would get to do.

The highlight of my second week was on Thursday, when I got to have lunch and drinks with three women from the industry, as well as my boss. Conversation ranged from copyright issues to “couples’ hotels” to the tragic closing of my store to themes for kids’ birthdays to e-books and what felt like 1001 other topics both expected and bizarre. They were enormously generous in sharing their opinions and advice for getting work in the publishing and arts community and by the end I was properly awed by them.

You know what else is nice? I get to talk about books All. The. Time.

But just like journalism, I feel as if I’m coming to publishing a couple of decades too late. If we’re talking about going paperless, there’s more hope for the continued survival of the book publishing industry than for print media, of course. Even though copyrights, royalties, and distribution of electronic format books are still issues that are being worked through the fact is that even the shaky model in place for e-books involves people actually paying for them. The same can’t be said for online news. Plus, though e-books are becoming more and more popular, they still account for only a miniscule portion of published books.

So maybe, if I started a career in book publishing, I could get used to the idea that some people prefer reading on a Kindle, as long as it allowed me to continue to make available books for sale. But over the last two weeks the real issue plaguing small publishers has become obvious. Independent bookstores are dying.

I can see you rolling your eyes. “Yes, Sarah. We know independent bookstores are dying,” you say. “Your store closed a few weeks ago and you made us read a series of extremely depressing ‘I’m out of a job and I’ve lost a reason to go on’ posts. We’re super familiar with the idea that independent bookstores going out of business = bad.”

But wait, dear ink splAters! I didn’t have the whole story. You see, McNally was (and still is I believe) Canada’s largest independent bookstore, and up until a few weeks ago, a fairy-tale success story that bibliophilic Winnipeggers were happy to brag about. Certainly I knew this, but honestly, I had never really thought about what it meant until I began this internship.

What it means is that my store was rare and different. Let’s break this down.

All bookstores are not created equal. Independents offer something that corporations can’t. I’m not saying this to be biased toward corporations. It makes complete sense that a larger a company gets, the more important it is to create specific, established business practices to have a certain level of continuity and service across each individual store, so customers are able to get a consistent, quality experience. What that means for the big-box book retailers in Canada is stock choices based on the interests of the greatest group of people, so ordering can be done all together across the company, instead of at individual stores, and that stock will be similar at each location. All of this seems reasonable to me. These store are profit-making businesses, as all good businesses are, and to operate with maximum efficiency this is how they are designed to run.

What that means for independent stores, which don’t have to operate under the “order stock that will please the greatest number of people across the country” stricture, is that they can specialize. Independents can cater to all the special-interest groups, put fringe publications on the shelves, order in dozens of copies of their favorite accidentally-stumbled-across novel by a complete unknown, have extensive Local Writers and Regional Interest sections, and have book launches and signings for new and little-known authors.

Small publishers, who tend to publish relative unknowns and be very specialized in the books they put out, rely on Independents to carry their books where larger corporations would not be able to, as it’s not as financially viable. McNally was fantastic, then. The best of both words to a small publisher: huge, nationwide(ish), and willing to carry and launch regional and specialized books.

It was kind of a revelation to me on my first day, when my boss and I were talking about Independents and she began to list all of the stores across Canada that had closed in the last five years. It gave me perspective. Suddenly, we weren’t the sign that the industry is in trouble, just the latest casualty in a slow slaughter.

“Yep,” my boss sighed. “It’s getting impossible to have a launch in a bookstore anymore.”

How’s that for depressing, eh?

Be it resolved.

Ink splAters, friends.

We’re almost halfway through the first month of the new decade and many people are embarking on the thrilling beginnings of their New Year’s resolutions.

This year I decided that I was not going to be one of those people. Come Jan 1 I was unemployed and slightly heartbroken, leaving me unable to quite muster the energy to think three days in the future, let alone 365. Despite the fact that I love lists, goals, and planning, I let the obligatory time for goal-setting pass and instead said goodbye to 2009 with a few choice friends without mention of resolutions.

But  now that I’ve stopped moping (mostly) and my so-far-fantastic work placement has forced me into productivity and action, I feel inspired to write down some objectives. I figure that because it is still January I am obligated to call them resolutions, as much as I would rather not. So here goes:


(beginning with the most cliche)

1)   Get back in shape.

Alright, I know everybody says this, but it’s going on the list anyway. My stationary bike misses me, and my oh-so-gorgeous birthday dress would look extra fantastic if I was as fit as I was this summer. Also, one of the last free books I got from the store was a title called “Shape Up, Size Down”.

I read it yesterday (which was a first for me actually… I’ve never read a fitness book before) and it seems pretty good. The program is simple, taking up a minimum of time and employing basic equipment. The book gives clear descriptions and explanations, with pictures for each step of all the exercises, and manages to be an easy read without sounding patronizing.  My favorite thing about it? The program is mapped out for four weeks. So I’m commiting to this plan for a month, to see if Sally Lewis really knows what she’s talking about, or if I should simply go back to my summer workout routine. I’ll let you folks know.

2)   Read outside of my comfort zone

A fitness book was a good start I think, but if anyone would like to recommend and lend philosophy, true crime, and biography books, not to mention graphic novels, I would feel obligated to fulfill this resolution.

3)   Write more thank-you notes

It’s just a nice gesture.

4)   Run a Marathon

Considering that one of the goals of my 5-year plan is to run three marathons a year, I think I’d better start as soon as possible.

5)   Complete 10 things off my “Things to do before I die” list

I told you I liked lists. My ”Things to do before I die” list originally had over 300 entries. I’ve whittled it down slowly, but I figure I need to cross off at least 10 this year, just for my own happiness.

6) Start compiling a Library

Okay. I have many many many books. But what fills my bookshelves right now does not necessarily include my favorite titles. There are dozens of books that I’ve borrowed from friends, family, or the public library that I adored and simply never got around to buying. This, I feel, is unacceptable. In 2010 I will begin to amass the Library (I feel it deserves a capital L) of my dreams.

That’s all for now.

A resolved and resolute S.E. Lund.

Should you choose to accept it…

Mission: Work Placement Episode One
Objective: Successfully integrate into a professional publishing environment, completing tasks as they are set by superiors while outwardly displaying a friendly, competant manner.
Estimated Length of Mission: 13 business days
Status: Ongoing

Day One Mission Report

0831:  Transportation arrives. Travel with agents Ken Jennings and JT, who are on intersecting missions.
0935:  Approach headquarters. Prepare for first face-to-face meeting with commanding agents.
0937: Briefing on mission specifications. Acquisition of necessary tools and documents. Construction of home base.
1125: Meet with JT re: rations and intelligence exchange.
1150: Review documents. Begin task UMP001.
1400: Discussion with commanding agents re: past missions and qualifications. Return to task UMP001.
1647: Deconstruct home base. Confirm transportation arrangements.
1800: Enter residence. Prepare for Day Two.

Agent inksplAt bookworm

I’ve been placed.

‘Ello. Hi.

It’s 2010 and here I am, five days in, at a crossroads. What to do with this literary blog of mine? I describe ink splAt as an “adventure in bookselling”, but that particular adventure has ended for the time being and without the silliness and story of my former job I’m not quite sure what this blog is anymore.

Luckily, I won’t have to make a decision about this lovely collection of musings for about three weeks. I’ve been placed, you see. My first of two work placements begins tomorrow and I’ll be working in the marketing department of a small publisher. I’m nervous, to be honest, but also excited. The point at which books and PR intersect seems like the ideal place for me and should potentially give me fuel to keep this book-devoted train chugging for the rest of the month.

I feel as if JT is sending me disapproving glances for not paying closer attention to the Canada vs. US final, so I’m going to stop typing and be patriotic. Ooh. Down 5-3. Not so good.

A soon-to-be publishy inksplAt bookworm.