Reasons To Be Thankful

This is the time of year when we start to reflect on what we have to be thankful for. This Thanksgiving, we’re remembering the Studio’s partnership with First Book for our Write for a Cause Program.

holiday_2013_GENERAL_donation_page_bannerFor those of you who don’t remember, this program partnered with First Book, an organization focused on fighting illiteracy in children by putting books in the hands of children in need. We made the pledge that for every 10 articles published in the program, we would donate one book to First Book.

Over the course of 5 months we managed to donate over 11,300 books which is roughly the size of your average public school library.

The reason this program is on our minds again is because we recently got some thank you messages from the recipients of those books. And of course, we wanted to share those messages with you:

Thank you Demand Media Studios for the books we recently received! Your generosity enables us to continue to our efforts to provide each of our Head Start families one book a month to establish their own home library. Putting books into the hands of pre-school children from low income families is so important to foster a love of reading and to enhance their continued success in school! Thanks again!
– Kathy from Clay Center, KS

Thank you Demand Studios for the books we recently received through First Book.  Most of the children we work with (and distribute books to) live at or below the federal poverty line and often do not have access to books in their homes.  We love seeing the smiles on their faces when they receive a new book! Thank You!
– Susan from Richmond, IN

In this time of thanksgiving, we’d like to wish our community nothing but health and happiness, from our families to yours. Happy holidays!

Find out more about First Book by visiting http://www.FirstBook.org.

10 Things My Studio Bio Won’t Tell You

Karen on one of her many adventures -- this time in northern Kenya.

Karen on one of her many adventures — this time in northern Kenya.

Name: Karen Sherman

Location: Brooklyn, New York

Years in the Studio: Four

Sections I chief for: Travel, Style and Food & Drink

1. I’m usually working hard, but when I’m hardly working, you can find me…

Planning my next trip, or the one after that. Or the one after that. Or a trip for someone else to take.

2. If I had to describe my work in three words, they would be…

Interested. Particular. Flexible.

3. The one thing I wish I could do well, but can’t is…

Play sports. I’m a good swimmer, but at anything that involves a bunch of people getting together and smacking a ball around, I’m pretty hopeless.

Credit: today.com

Credit: today.com

4. If I ruled the world for a day I would…

Run away and hide. I’m not comfortable wielding that much power!

5. I couldn’t make it through the day without…

Music. But chocolate helps too. As does pie.

6. The greatest risk I ever took was…

Quitting my job to vagabond my way around the world. Choosing to let my return ticket expire and just keep wandering might have been a bigger risk, but it wasn’t nearly as scary. And by the time I made it home again, choosing to freelance instead of getting a real job was easy!

7. You’ll catch me saying this phrase far too often …

“Let me just reiterate…”

The road trip Karen is saving up for!

The road trip Karen is saving up for!

8. I am saving up for…

A road trip to Newfoundland…the long and complicated way. Anyone want to donate two spare tires (on rims)?

9. What is your theme song for life?

“Consequence Free” by Great Big Sea. Or maybe “These Are Days” by 10,000 Maniacs.

10. My favorite movie of all time is…

Danny Kaye’s “The Court Jester.”

The New and Improved Guidelines

GeneralGuidelinesIt’s probably old news to most of you, but we felt inclined to give our new and improved guidelines another shout out, since after all, they are quite spectacular. The demands from our contributors — you — were clear: Make the guidelines more streamlined and easier to access. Your wish was our command.

Food&DrinkAfter some hard work from our team of editors, content consultants, product team and community managers we’ve created a new format and updated guidelines for all of our studio sections at DMS. Make sure to check them out because many things have changed — not simply their appearance! You’ll notice these guidelines allow you, the writer, to have more freedom and authority over your work. We trust and value your voice — it’s what keeps this wheel of ours turning. So, go ahead. Check them out, download them as PDFs and reference them as you work.

GardeningLet us know what you think! How do you like the new format? Has this changed your experience at DMS?

Geeking out on wine

grapecollective

Credit: Antoinette Bruno, grapecollective.com

Writing about niche topics, such as wine, has some benefits. Besides taste testing. We got particularly excited (and thought of our great group of food writers) when we saw that talented journalists, editors and experts got together to give us a new digital magazine: Grape Collective. While we aren’t wine experts just yet, we feel like we’re on our way reading this site for the “casual-but-curious” wine drinker.

Check out the list of experienced winos contributing to the site, including Dorothy Gaiter (WSJ’s Tastings column), Barbara Fairchild (former Bon Appetit editor-in-chief), Nick Fauchald (former Tasting Table editor) and the list goes on.

Some of our favorite articles so far: Chianti region specifics, a lesson on the misunderstood Beaujolais, and this soon-to-be regular column about Biodynamic wines.

Whether you’re a DMS food writer looking to deepen your knowledge of varietals, or just an enthusiastic consumer, this site looks like it will offer a wealth of knowledge. We’ve certainly bookmarked it for future reference.

Do you have a favorite wine site? Do tell.

10 Things My Studio Bio Won’t Tell You

A picture taken at one of Cyndee's sons cross country races. Cyndee joked saying,  "the picture kinda sums up my household after raising three boys!"

A picture taken at one of Cyndee’s sons cross country races. Cyndee joked saying, “the picture kinda sums up my household after raising three boys!”

Name: Cyndee Kromminga

Location: Winfield, Kansas

Years in the Studio: 5 years

Sections I write for: How to crafts, DIY home improvements and interior design.

1. I’m usually working hard, but when I’m hardly working, you can find me…

My passion is crafting. My work involves designing, crafting, writing, blogging and selling my crafts both online and locally. You would think I would step away from anything crafty when I am not working, but…I really, really enjoy it. It relaxes me. So, even if I am not “working”, you will probably still find me reading, writing, sketching, designing…pretty much anything that ties back to my work.

Cyndee's "Denim Country Pumpkins" from her site www.restyledjunk.com

Cyndee’s “Denim Country Pumpkins” from her site http://www.restyledjunk.com

2. If I had to describe my work in three words, they would be….

Trash to Treasure

My crafting specialty is creating clever and thrifty items from junk. I love turning trash into treasure and writing tutorials for others to make them too.

 3. My favorite websites to waste time on are…

Restyled Junk (my blog), Ginger Snap Crafts, The Shabby Creek Cottage, Funky Junk Interiors, The Dedicated House, Beyond the Screen Door, Pinterest, Facebook. There are actually many more DIY/craft sites that I frequent, but I figured I had better find a stopping point.

4. The one thing I wish I could do well, but can’t is…

Decorate pretty cakes. As a crafter you would think I would be a natural, but I can’t decorate a cake to save my life.

 5. If I ruled the world for a day I would…

This is a little like dreaming about what you would do if you won the lottery, or if you were granted three wishes. Careful consideration generally runs toward ways to extend the win or wishes further than they imply. That said, I would insist on a paycheck worthy of that job and wipe out all of my debt. ;)

6. I couldn’t make it through the day without…

Coffee

7. The greatest risk I ever took was…

After the shooting at Columbine High School, my husband and I sold our house in Denver and moved back to my hometown in Kansas to raise our sons. We did it on a wing and a prayer. We had no job prospects. Houses were less expensive, so after buying a new house, we lived on monies left over from the sale of our previous house and craft sales for two months. That’s when we found jobs. There have been many “risks” since then, but we didn’t really take them those risks by choice.

8. You’ll catch me saying this phrase far too often …

Credit: drafthouse.com

Credit: drafthouse.com

“Lalalalala…Let’s just pretend we didn’t have the last 30 seconds of conversation.”

LOL! I have three grown sons who like to share much more than any mother ever wants to hear.

9. What is your theme song for life?

Strong Enough To Bend, by Tanya Tucker

10. My favorite movie of all time is…

Wizard of Oz

I’m actually a sucker for any chick flick. Yep, I’m just corny that way.

Show Me the Money: Must Reads for Freelancers

Credit: thesavvyfreelancer.com

Credit: thesavvyfreelancer.com

We do it because we love writing. We do it because we love the rush of barely meeting a deadline. We do it because we love seeing the finished product. We do it because we can’t imagine doing anything else. But what if we could write for all of those reasons and the money?

In their book, “The Wealthy Freelancer,” authors Steve Slaunwhite, Pete Savage and Ed Gandia debunk the notion that the life of a freelancer should be one based on mere survival. The three gents outline 12 principle habits, tactics and practices that separate the ‘starving artists’ from the wealthy ‘solo professionals’ — sounds intriguing right?

Here are a few things we like about their 12 principle approach:

  • Each principle is based on a trait or practice successful freelancers have exhibited.
  • The principles are actionable — not theoretic mumbo jumbo.
  • It’s positive and empowering. No “woe is me,” mentality allowed.
  • These guys earned the 2010 Small Business Book Award.

LinkedIn for Freelancers

Credit: freelancefolder.com

Credit: freelancefolder.com

We’ve shared some info about connecting with your fellow freelancers, but it’s time we take a closer look at our LinkedIn profiles. If you’re anything like us, you check in with it every so often to see who’s checking us out, where folks are working and what new connections we can make. But there are more things freelance writers, editors and photographers can do to keep themselves in conversation with their peers.

Writer Susan Johnston offers 5 Surprising Ways Writers Can Use LinkedIn, to help you skip the things you don’t need and focus on the things that will help you expand your connections in a meaningful way. Some tips we didn’t think about before are:

  • Introduce yourself to folks that have viewed your profile using the site’s messaging system: InMail. You can’t lose. If the person responds, you may have just made a connection. If they don’t reply within 7 days, you get credits to use more InMail.
  • Use apps that can help you display work. If you create content that has a strong visual component, such as info graphics and slideshows, these apps can help show off your work with more than just a link.

Check out the article for more helpful tips. Note: Some of these features require you to pay for LinkedIn Pro, but if you haven’t been getting much out of your account, it might be worth a try.

10 Things My Studio Bio Won’t Tell You

Ali's human family.

Ali’s human family.

Name:  Ali Rittenhouse

One member of Ali's animal family...

One member of Ali’s animal family…

Location: Ohio

Years in the Studio: less than 1

Sections I write for: Business & Technology

1. I’m usually working hard, but when I’m hardly working, you can find me…

Catching the latest flick or hanging out with my family pool side!

2. If I had to describe my work in three words, they would be….

High-energy, creative and outgoing

3. My favorite websites to waste time on are…

Pinterest!

And another pet family member...

And another pet family member…

4. The one thing I wish I could do well, but can’t is…

Home decor! I am very creative but my creativity stops at home decor!

5. The difference between writers and editors is…

Writers capture the readers. Editors make sure the readers don’t email writers about their grammar mistakes.

6. I couldn’t make it through the day without…

iPhone. If we are talking materialistic items. It keeps me all together.

7. The greatest risk I ever took was…

Leaving the country to visit Paris, France. It was the most amazing experience.

This is the last one, promise!

This is the last one, promise!

8. I am saving up for…

To take my family on an international trip!!

9. What is your theme song for life?

Geekin by will.i.am

10. My favorite movie of all time is…

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation!!

A Case of the Mondays: Veterans Day

Veterans-day-e1289486232769Today is Veteran’s Day and unlike most Monday’s when complaining about spilt coffee and traffic seems compulsory, today we’ll refrain from such cursory complaints in favor of appreciating the things that really matter. With that, we’re offering our sincerest thanks to all of those who serve, who have served and all of the families, friends and loved ones who support our armed forces.

DMS honors you today!

Watercoolering: Party games

Credit: weblogs.variety.com

Credit: weblogs.variety.com

Holidays = food & parties. With all the impending festivities, we got to thinking about how to break up the monotony and make a party memorable. Games? Yes please. And we aren’t talking about those awkward, workplace ice breaker games. Read on to get inspired for your next gathering.

Game: Ditch the resume

How to play: Establish a rule at the beginning of the party that attendees can’t reveal or discuss their professions. It opens up the evening for some amazing resume-free conversation. It’s best with groups of folks who don’t know one another, but can also work for avoiding work talk among close friends.

Game: Heads up!

How to play: This phone or tablet app, brought to you by Ellen Degeneres, is a lot like charades, Catchphrase or Taboo. One person holds the device that displays a word or phrase. The other players try and help that person guess the word with clues. Once the guesser gets the word right, they move on until time runs out. Our favorite is the accent category, where the guesser has to imitate different accents from around the world. Plus the app makes a fun DING when you get an answer correct! Download it here and check out this video to see how the game works:

Game: Book lines

How to play: This is a great game for your literary guests. The host buys some cheap/obscure books — such as romance novels — and each person at the party gets a book. One at a time, each person reads the synopsis on back of their book. Then everyone at the party writes what they think the first sentence of the book would be. The person who read the synopsis writes the ACTUAL first sentence in that book on a piece of paper. All of the sentences are put in a hat/bowl and mixed up. Each person draws a sentence and reads it aloud. Everyone votes, and the person who has the most believable sentence wins.

Game: Places

How to play: This game comes to you courtesy of Mad Men’s season 2 episode Jet Set. Don attends a fabulous poolside dinner party in Palm Springs (after fainting in the sun earlier that afternoon) and wins at this game they call “Places.” One person names a city anywhere in the world. The next person has to say the name of a city that starts with the last letter of the previous city. Phew, did you follow? So, if one person said Los Angeles, the next person could say Stockholm. And so on. If nothing else, you’ll have a great time trying to remember those state capitals you memorized in school.

So now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite dinner party game?