Amy talks with David Friend, the Books editor at Vanity Fair, about the new collection of early Vanity Fair: Bohemians, Bootleggers, Flappers, and Swells.
Amy talks with David Friend, the Books editor at Vanity Fair, about the new collection of early Vanity Fair: Bohemians, Bootleggers, Flappers, and Swells.
Many people struggle to be creative. We see creative people and their work around us and compare ourselves. We don’t know how to be creative, or worse, we did once, and now we’re feeling blocked, bored or unsure. Tired of this happening to you?
Hi. I’m Adam J. Kurtz, and my new journal, 1 Page at a Time, can help. A daily creative companion, this book will assist in the journey back to your creative self. Through exercises and challenges “proven” to help, you too can harness your mind. You too can feel the guiding light of creativity as it pushes you to accomplish incredible feats of “ART” in the workplace, and in your personal life. You’ll write! You’ll cry!
For a limited time, all this is available for only — say it with me: 1! PAGE! AT A TIME!
If only it were that easy. A single book that could change everything, a quick fix, a ten-step program that could make the difference. The bad news is that creativity, like most things, is a journey. The good news? You’ve already started. As a living, breathing human being you are already creative. Congratulations! Simply processing the world around you is a creative feat. Getting dressed. Choosing lunch. Everything is creativity, everything is art, and you have everything you need. Your way of looking at things, the way you consume and digest all play a role.
When we think of creative accomplishments, we tend to think of the end result. The completed manuscript, mastered files, or framed piece. We get so caught up in that tangible end goal that we might not even see the creativity itself: the emotions, thinking, sketches and planning that led to that final output.
There’s no quick fix because there can’t be. There’s no switch to flip because your creativity is constantly flowing, you just might be letting it slip by. So instead of rushing forward, slow down. Take a deep breath. What are you thinking right now? What is the root of that emotion? Let’s talk about something else. Where have you traveled before? What would you write in a letter to a seven-year-old? Get up and walk away. Staring a problem in the face isn’t going to solve anything. Staring yourself in the face might. Write everything down and look at it. Make a couple of lists. Have some water, swish it around your mouth until it’s lukewarm, then swallow it. Okay, where were we, and where do we stand now?
Harness a small bit of yourself every day. A tiny piece. Something that feels irrelevant or useless. Put it to paper, then come back tomorrow. Our goals can be so daunting that we forget all the good advice we already know. “Rome wasn’t built in a day!” “Slow and steady wins the race!” Take small steps to accomplish your larger tasks. Follow your gut or your heart or whichever parts make your decisions. Remember that nothing really matters, no matter how important it might seem right now. Life moves on. The universe does what it wants. Have a little faith or take the whole leap. Your only job is to keep moving on. That’s creativity. It’s not a painting, it’s continuing to process, progress, and enjoy your life as you make it through.
But what do I know? I’m just some guy on the internet.
1 Page at a Time is a lot of things. It’s a diary. It’s a sketchbook. It’s a rulebook, a guidebook, a playbook and a yearbook. It’s whatever you want, with a healthy dose of optimism. And cynicism. It’s human. And it’s going to push you along your creative journey in the same way it helped me on mine.
Adam J. Kurtz is a graphic designer, artist, and serious person. He is primarily concerned with creating honest, accessible work, including a range of small products and the self-published “unsolicited advice” calendar series. He is the author of no other books.
He currently lives in New York City. Visit AdamJK.com, @AdamJK, & jkjkjkjkjkjkjkjkjkjk.com (or don’t!).
WELCOME TO THE ONE AND ONLY New York Comic Con. Walking into the Javitz Center off 11th Avenue, I was not prepared for the plethora of fans bouncing off each other with pure adoration. The aura of Con was beaming with contagious excitement. From the moment I stepped in, I heard “can I take a picture with you?” This question was asked frequently with great admiration for all the costumes, fandom, and creativity. This question, of course, was never directed at me, as I was dressed in boring work attire. At one point, I bumped into someone and he turned and said “Sorry!” I looked at him to say, “don’t be silly, it was my fault.” When he looked me in the eyes, I jumped back. Those white-eyed contacts were jarring, especially with an endearing smile that revealed bloody fangs. Conclusions: Comic Con is another universe. Comic Con is cool, so cool. And Comic Con is the definition of togetherness. I couldn’t help but flip through my thoughts on what I would have dressed up as, and how I wish I had. Sailor Moon? Zelda? Daenerys? Maybe next year…
The first day, I was able to interview James Dashner, author of The Maze Runner for the Beaks & Geeks podcast. I must admit that I fangirled super hard as we chatted by the press lounge. Our interview went well, as did the others. Between Thursday and Sunday, we were able to speak with James, Daniel José Older, Amber Benson, Romina Russell, Myke Cole, and Patrick Rothfuss. Check it out, the playlist is embedded below!
Last sunday was such a lovely fall weekend. My boyfriend and I strolled around Park Slope, enjoying the crisp mid-October weather. After a cozy brunch, complete with French press coffee, we went looking for a place to watch the football games. On the way, we found the farmer’s market. Dog and cat adoption trucks lined 5th Avenue in what had to be the cutest display of large vehicles I’ve ever seen. As obsessive animal lovers, we remained there for an unreasonable amount of time before heading into the market for some fresh pickles. Down the road I stumbled across this beautiful scene: autumn colored balloons caught in one of the trees lining the street. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the moment as much as we did.
Until next time.
I’m a sucker for trees. Our art department laughs about how many of the picture books I publish feature trees (in a good way!). So when I got the submission for Maple, I was a goner. Here was a book that celebrated a nature-loving, free-spirited little girl whose parents plant a tree in her honor. A little girl who can often be rowdy but who finds peace under the rustling, dancing leaves of her maple tree. Lori Nichols’s art in this enchanting picture book debut is crisp and lush and so inviting. Everyone who reads this falls in love with Maple and her little sister, Willow. And the starred reviews keep coming in!
We were thrilled when Lori told us there were more stories about these charming little girls. (After all, Lori has three little girls of her own, so there will be many stories to tell!) In Maple & Willow Together, which we are publishing in November 2014, Lori perfectly captures the dynamics of siblings. Maple and Willow do everything together, playing outside come rain or shine. But it’s not always sunshine and rainbows, because sometimes a big sister can be bossy and a little sister can be frustrating—and get frustrated—and a blow-up ensues. What I love about this story is that Lori shows us that the girls figure out how to solve things on their own. They are the ones in charge in this leafy kingdom – a kingdom that readers will want to revisit often. And good news on that front – more adventures are coming when Maple heads off to big-girl school and Willow is home alone, so stay tuned for Maple & Willow Apart (coming Fall 2015).
A woman came to my door the other day and said, “You’re the editor of Superstorm, right?” My assistant has been out on maternity leave and so I’m getting used to people I don’t recognize waltzing into my office. “Great book” the woman said and so of course she had my attention. She said she was from Gerristen Beach, a part of Brooklyn that was about 10 feet underwater after Sandy rolled through. Her family lost the house her father built. They are still putting their lives back together. She is a temp working in Operations for PRH at 375 Hudson Street. She loves this book. Me too.
We had just had our Halloween party back in 2012 in this building when New Yorkers started to realize the big bad hurricane was coming to get us. As she was working on Superstorm Kathryn Miles said the storm was like the shark in Jaws—yes, her story is that scary. Forecasters and their science were unable to make sense of this unprecedented system as it played out; seamen with all their traditional knowledge couldn’t predict what it would do; and the survivors whose lives it all but destroyed are still trying to pick up the pieces. This story is all about the unforgiving, fearsome power of nature—just when we thought we had it beat.
We meet Chris Landsea, the Science and Operations Officer at the National Hurricane Center who had been thinking the 2012 hurricane season was a quiet one—and pretty much over—until he and a colleague noticed what looked like the beginnings of an unusual tropical depression. But the picture the data delivered was not clear. Kathryn Miles’ gripping narrative soon demonstrates that we have a national infrastructure emergency that we haven’t yet noticed. It isn’t just that our bridges and schools are in danger of collapsing, our scientific data gathering, especially meteorological data gathering systems, are an appalling, neglected mess. Forecasters used to rely on a tool called the quick scatterometer which used microwave sensors to gauge winds speeds near the ocean surface. Then it broke. In 2009. Ever since we’ve been using a vastly inferior European data stream and have no plans to replace it. This of course is merely one example…
The New York Office of Emergency Management advised Mayor Bloomberg that all was fine on Saturday night, but then by Sunday morning had him calling for the mandatory evacuation of 350,000 people including the families of Gerristen Beach. Given the state of our forecasting infrastructure, this flip flop is perhaps not so surprising.
Kathryn Miles’ Superstorm is a gripping read, and it is also a necessary one in a time of increasingly unpredictable, deadly weather.
Read more about Superstorm by Kathryn Miles.
Tara Mohr’s new book, Playing Big, is a guide for women to find their calling and make practical steps to dream bigger and achieve their goals.
1. What do you think has been missing from the women & work conversation?
A lot! There’s been an oversimplification in the discussion of “internal” vs. “external” barriers to women’s advancement. The usual conversation treats them as totally independent from one another, and also confuses acknowledging the internal barriers (self-doubt for example) with “blaming women” – as if any internal barriers are women’s fault and therefore women’s responsibility. We miss the context: Women grapple with those internal barriers because of cultural and historical factors. Centuries of women’s marginalization and exclusion from professional, public and political life left a societal legacy, but it also left a legacy in us, impacting how we see ourselves. Looking inward to address the internal barriers to our own empowerment is – in my view – a wise response to that legacy. It’s part of the work women in our time need to do to claim our power, and our new freedoms, fully.
2.What compelled you to write Playing Big?
All around me, I saw brilliant women playing small. I was seeing it in my coaching clients, my colleagues, my friends and in myself. We were turning away from sharing our ideas, from truly going for our career dreams. We weren’t playing as big as our ideas, our talents, and our capacity for leadership merited.
3.You say that all contemporary women “have been hired for the transition team” – what do you mean by that?
The past was a world defined, designed and led largely by men. The future – we hope – will be a world defined, designed and led by women and men. The present is the transition. By dint of our birth into this historical moment, we’ve been “hired for the transition team.”
When women can start to see themselves as a part of a global, revolutionary transition team, we can more compassionately and wisely understand what’s not working in our institutions and culture right now. And can be buoyed by the understanding that whatever we do in our communities, companies and families to bring forward women’s voices – including our own voices – is connected to something much larger and much greater, something we are a part of.
4.What are the major blocks women have get in the way of their playing big?
That delusional inner critic voice, and not having the tools to deal with it. Also, paradoxically, often our good student habit and good girl behaviors get in our way. These habits are very helpful up to a certain point in our careers – they help us be good worker bees, solid contributors –but they then get in the way of our leading and shaking up the status quo. Some faulty beliefs also tend to get in our way – that we aren’t expert enough, that we need one more training or degree or a few more years experience. And of course, there are also many external barriers – unconscious and conscious bias, the double-bind, the dearth of female leader role models and mentors.
5. Part of this book is about callings – how can a woman figure out what her calling is?
Yes, I find most women don’t truly feel they are playing big until they play big not just in their careers, but in whatever pursuits they feel most called to. Those pursuits might happen through their jobs, but they might also happen through volunteer work, activism, family life or a creative passion. There are eight common patterns I see in how callings tend to show up in our lives – and usually we can recognize a calling because it meets at least a few of these criteria –
How do you recognize a calling? Look for one or more of these clues:
I see no evidence that we each get a single calling. Most women experience many over a lifetime, and even many at once. The question isn’t “what’s my calling?” It is “what callings am I receiving right now?” The goal isn’t to find the one final perfect calling and devote the rest of one’s days to it. Rather, the goal is to become a woman more able to recognize her callings and respect them. Often this is where we get stuck – respecting and taking seriously our callings.
6. You talk a lot about the inner critic and the inner mentor – what are those inner voices and why are they so important?
The quality of our lives and the quality of our leadership depends on whether we listen to the wisest part of ourselves or the most fearful part of ourselves.
All of us – women and men – have a vicious and strong inner critic voice, a voice that talks to us about how and why we don’t measure up. When women listen to the inner critic, or think it’s voice is just “who they are,” they get stuck playing small. And yet, one thing that women often get wrong is that they think they have become “confident” – that they have to get rid of self-doubt. We don’t! Our self-doubt isn’t going away. We do, however, need a new way of relating to it. We need to learn how to recognize the inner critic voice, hear it, acknowledge it, but not take direction from it.
One of the most powerful things a woman can do is discover what I call “the inner mentor.” When I was being trained as a coach, I was taught a simple, guided meditation I could use with my clients to help them envision and older, future version of themselves – themselves twenty to thirty years out into the future. What I found was that when people did this guided meditation and truly accessed that vision, it wasn’t just an “older” version of themselves they encountered, but rather a wiser, calmer, more fully expressed version of themselves. I came to call this the “inner mentor” because it functioned like a mentor women could call upon for guidance when they were facing a challenge or dilemma. Its answers were always surprising, profound, and unfailingly wise. Playing bigger from the inside out, is, in larger part, about becoming more and more like that wiser self – growing into her, so to speak.
There’s so much advice today for women to find mentors. Mentors can be great for support, tactical information, and help navigating a particular company or field, and yet, there are so many instances in which a woman’s best answers will come from within herself – and when only she can know what the right course for herself is.
7.You are skeptical about all the positive hype about girls’ success is school – why?
Of course, it’s not a bad thing that girls are succeeding in school, but I do think we need to look more critically at what they are succeeding at when they do so. Often, the core skills that school teachers are 1) how to adapt to what an authority figure (the teacher) wants 2) how to learn information from the outside (a book, a lecture, etc.) and then memorize or apply it 3) how to prepare well – how to study for a test, or prepare for the next day’s discussion in class. These skills help us in certain ways in our careers, but to lead, to innovate, to be changemakers, and to do work that we find personally meaning in, we need a different skill set:
I think we are kidding ourselves if we think that girls’ success in school is adequately preparing them to be the leaders and change agents we need them to be!
Read more about Playing Big here.
Visit Tara Mohr’s website here.
When I was young my parents used to traipse my two brothers, my sister and me around Europe to see the sights – my mother was a historian, and we spent a lot of time reliving the Albigensian crusades, climbing ramparts and re-enacting the fates of kings and heretics. I remember a trip through Normandy when every time we passed a broom bush we would cry out “Plant a Genet” – Geoffrey Plantagenet, the founder of the dynasty that ruled England before the Tudors, used to stick a sprig of broom in his hat. The Plantagenets controled England and Normandy, and large swaths of France. Their most famous kings – Henry Ist, Richard the Lionheart, Edward I, were heroic rulers, brave on the battlefield and skillful in their stewardship of government. The less appealing among them – “Bad” King John, Edward II, Richard III – were conniving and duplicitous egotists, the famous villains of Shakespeare’s history plays.
All of this was a bit of a blur of fact and myth until I read Dan Jones’ The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England. Dan’s history is alive – he puts you right there on the battlefield, and inside the thoughts of knights and knaves as they contemplate cunning acts of treachery or meet their gory deaths. He is a natural storyteller – which means that he tells history as it should be told, as a story, with larger than life characters and surprising plot twists. This is history for fans of Game of Thrones or The Lord of the Rings – with all of the sexual escapades and gory ends –only in this case every word is true.
My son is three and thinks of himself as a knight, and I think there is something deeply appealing about that world, with its code of honor, bravery and chivalry. Dan Jones’ Plantagenets was a surprise NY Times bestseller for us – everyone in house loved it, and it became a huge sales department favorite. We are about to publish his follow up, The Wars of the Roses, which tells the story of how the Plantagenets essentially clawed themselves apart and were finally replaced by the Tudors. The Tudors are familiar – Henry with his bloody serial monogamy, Elizabeth and Mary, Queens who knew that their power was at once sharpened and compromised by their sex. But how did they come to rule England? It turns out that their grandfather would never in his wildest dreams have imagined that his descendents would one day wear the crown. When Katherine of Valois chose him as her second husband, she did so because she thought he was safe. Little did she know what trouble their children would have in store for them. Dan Jones is so much fun to read that once you finish you want to go right back to the beginning and start all over again.
Playing make-believe as a kid, I usually dreamt up that I was one of two people: “the grocery store checkout lady” or “the guy that cleans your windows at the gas station.” Not on the list: the princess. Maybe because I’d never seen one up close? Maybe I was just exceedingly practical? No, it definitely had more to do with princesses being, to my mind, fine but boring. What do they really do all day? Nothing as cool as wielding a squeegee.
Then I read A Little Princess. And not long after that, The Princess Bride. Suddenly, I’d found two “princess stories” that I would read again and again. They were funny, moving, and a little scary, with princesses I cheered for and loved to spend time with. So it felt a little magical when three years ago, Pennyroyal Academy crossed my desk, a submission that instantly reminded of these cherished books. Only then, it was called Pennyroyal’s Princess Bootcamp. It was hilarious and charming, and we knew immediately that we wanted to publish it.
Then in a twist befitting the best fairytales, something even more magical happened: debut novelist M.A. Larson shaped Pennyroyal’s Princess Bootcamp into the extraordinary Pennyroyal Academy, a novel that’s not only sharp and funny, but is a clever Grimm-like fairytale (starring a heroine Sara Crewe and Buttercup would definitely be proud of). The tongue-in-cheek is still there, but so now, too, is an incredible warmth and heart, and a memorable cast of characters, from princesses and knights, to witches and dragons.
We first meet our heroine, Evie, stumbling through an enchanted forest, wearing a dress made of cobwebs, desperate to make her way to the famed Pennyroyal Academy. For the first time in its long history, the academy has lifted its blood restrictions and all are welcome to enroll at this premier training ground for princesses and knights. The school has no choice. With the threat of witches growing stronger every day, they need all the help they can get. But for Evie, life at the academy means enduring a harsh training regimen under the ever-watchful eye of her fairy drillsergeant, while also navigating a new world of friends and enemies. I hope you’ll have as much fun falling into the world of Pennyroyal as I have–this is a story that is surprising, tender, and inspiring, with the affirming message: “You get to decide what you want to be. No one else.” No matter what your make-believe preference, there’s something here for everyone.
Nothing says fall in New York like the changing of the leaves… well that and apple picking, pumpkin picking, roasted corn, crisp mornings, Pumpkin spiced lattes (or Pumpkin Spiced anything), cider, donuts, the beginning of baking season, sweaters, boots, and scarves! I could go on (trust me) and make a LONG list of all of my favorite fall things, but I will leave you with the abridged version. The short of it is that Fall has arrived in NYC, and while we may still be having 80 degree days, the trees are beginning to tell a different story.
To celebrate my love of fall, I took a weekend trip north of the city up to the Adirondacks for a little reading, relaxation, and to take in the changing of the seasons. My first morning I decided to relax on the deck and enjoy the the view. I sipped my coffee and read a bit of the latest book to cross my desk Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little. Dear Daughter is the Penguin Twitter Book Club Pick of the Month for October. Please join our chat on Tuesday, October 7th and 21st from 2-3PM. You can follow along and ask questions using #ReadPenguin. I am not a big mystery fan, but I am really enjoying this one! Start Reading an Excerpt!
After a nice leisurely morning with a cup of coffee and my book, I decided to go for a hike around the lake. I brought my book (naturally), because I don’t go anywhere without one as a rule. You never know when you are going to come across a nice spot to sit and read! Bringing it along turned out to be a good decision, because I think I may have found my new favorite reading hideaway. Not a bad view, don’t you think? It turned out to be less of a hike, more of a walk through the woods. I spent a long time reading on this rock overlooking the lake. Overall I think it was a success.
The rest of the trip was spent apple picking, donut eating, barbecuing, and enjoying a little peace and quiet. It was nice to have a few days away from the city and it gave me a chance to take a deep breath and unwind before jumping back into the work week. October is here and we are busy as ever! New York Comic Con is right around the corner, stop by the Penguin Booth and say hi! We are gearing up for our Holiday promotions and have a number of exciting sweepstakes coming out weekly on our Facebook and Twitter pages. And on top of all of that we have lots of new and exciting books coming out (there never seems to be enough time to read them all!) But enough about me, what are you up to this fall? Any weekend vacation suggestions or favorite Fall activities? We would love to hear about them in the comments!
Happy Fall and thanks for reading! Until next time,
Alan Walker is the Director of Academic and Library Marketing and Sales for Penguin. He can also be found on occasion reading Penguin Classics in alphabetical order for his Penguin Classics Marathon.
W. Somerset Maugham’s masterpiece is my favorite novel, and I recommend it to everyone. It follows the life of Philip Carey at the beginning of the twentieth century. Born with a club foot and orphaned at a young age, Philip grows up with his dreary aunt and uncle, is packed off to boarding school in Germany, attempts to become an artist in Paris, and then returns to England to try his luck at medicine and various other careers. During that time he falls for Mildred, a waitress beneath his station, in what turns into a mutually destructive relationship (to say the least!). Maugham’s novel stands the test of time and is unique in how it makes us realize how much alike we are to those who came before us, in our hopes, ambitions, passions and most especially our deepest flaws. Three film adaptations have never come close to doing the novel justice, never capturing the heart and humor of the book. It would make a great HBO or BBC mini-series if done properly! (Michael Fassbender as Philip maybe?)
Wharton’s novel of the 1870s New York aristocracy is right up there as my all-time favorite read. Newland Archer’s tortured affair with the scandalized divorcee Countess Olenska set against the rigid morals of upper class society is the stuff of literary magic. How Wharton gets so deep into the very soul of Newland’s mind and heart is uncanny. If you’ve ever lived a lie for even a moment Newland is your man! The famous scene when our hero (or anti-hero?) sees Ellen (the Countess) from afar, and decides to go to her if she turns to him is one of the most heartbreaking scenes you’ll ever find in a book.
Wharton’s novels were mostly about high society New Yorkers, like The Age of Innocence, but she also wrote two books about the rural poor. The better known of these is Ethan Frome which takes place in a corner of Western Massachusetts and is one of literature’s great love stories. I read this when I was a teenager and plan to go back to it at some point to see how it reads a few years (OK, decades) later. I admit a personal connection to this book as I too spent early years with friends and siblings sledding down the same steep Berkshire hills as Mattie and Ethan did in their fictional town of Starkfield. Luckily for me though, we did a better job of avoiding the trees.
Ah, the Russians. I think I could list any number of great Russian novels below in my top five black spine recommendations, but for the sake of brevity I have chosen one, which may not be as familiar as some from the long list of great 19th and 20th Century works, from Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Zamyatin, Chekhov, Bulgakov, Gogol, Pushkin, etc. That book is Mikhail Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time starring the dark and moody Pechorin who delights in the misery and downfall of those around him. Pechorin is one of my favorite characters in all of literature, and towards the end of the short novel there is a hilarious dual scene that is worth the price of admission! For anyone interested there is a 1992 French film entitled Un Coeur in Hiver (A Heart in Winter) which is a loosely based modern adaptation of the novel starring Daniel Auteuil.
Speaking of great film adaptations, my last recommendation is E.M. Forster’s A Room With a View. It’s hard to read this book without picturing all the actors from the great 1985 Merchant/Ivory production reading their lines as you stroll through this very amusing novel, and that is mostly due to E.M. Forster’s brilliant dialogue which was taken practically verbatim from the book for the movie. To quote from my own Classics Marathon Read (link above) I guess I am a sucker for a novel about repressed upper class Brits at the turn of the 20th Century, especially when juxtaposed against the raw passion and beauty of Italy. If you are like me, whether you’ve seen the movie a hundred times or not, Forster’s novel will make you want to ask the great questions and maybe on a future trip to Florence plan a day trip to a nearby Fiesole hillside!
Find more books on the Penguin Classics page!