Virginia is on leave (and introducing Violet!)

Dear friends,

I’m delighted to announce that — after blowing her deadline by 9 days!* — Violet Marian Upham-Smith arrived this past Sunday, August 18, at 2:34 AM. As you can see, she is 7.5 pounds of wonderful and Dan (her rockstar dad) and I are completely smitten. (Also sleepy.)

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The Sea Horse Is Named Bubbles [Mermaids]

Thanks so much to everyone who has emailed, commented, or Tweeted about The Last Mermaid Show! I spent the holiday weekend at a friend’s wedding, so I’m behind on replies but I so appreciate every note. (Except the dude who wrote in to argue that “real mermaids don’t wear bikini tops!” Sort of making my point, thanks.)

And since a lot of you asked nicely…

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There’s Nothing Mickey Mouse About These Mermaids [Times Magazine, July 7, 2013]

In my last post (about my essay on fitness motivation for Elle), I mentioned that I traveled on another assignment in April and the experience inspired me to learn to swim.

That story will make more and less sense now that I can tell the whole thing, because the article in question is finally online now and will be in this weekend’s Times Magazine.

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Farewell Google Reader, Hello Bloglovin’

Those of you who read this blog on the website or via email can ignore this quickie housekeeping post.

But if you read this blog through Google Reader, this is just a head’s up to let you know that since Google Reader’s days are numbered, I have now claimed my blog on Bloglovin’ and you can follow it over there.

I am personally still adjusting to the loss of Google Reader (and pondering why Google killed that but not the completely irrelevant Google Plus?) but Bloglovin’ is growing on me, despite the cheesy name. If there are other blog readers that you use/love/want to see this blog on, let me know and I’ll figure out how to make that happen.

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Exercise: Learning To Love It [Elle, June 2013]

Elle Magazine Virginia Sole-Smith June 2013

The June 2013 issue of Elle is “The Body Issue,” and I contributed this essay on the science of exercise motivation and my personal quest to stop thinking of my workouts as yet another chore (to be avoided at all costs) and start being one of those people who actually craves physical activity and gets grouchy when they can’t do it.

Elle "Exercise Learn To Love It," June 2013 by Virginia Sole-Smith

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No, Editors Won’t Steal Your Ideas

I did a fun interview last month with Grace Bello, who is a journalist, copy writer and writing teacher who writes for the Freelance Strategist. The (very smart!) piece is now up over here. If you don’t know about Freelance Strategist (I, um, did not) — it’s a cool blog run by Contently, which is a free portfolio site for journalists to showcase their work and connect with editors and what have you. I haven’t used Contently myself yet, but a prospective client was just telling me last week how he finds it pretty useful for finding new writers. So I should probably get on that. There is, as they say, buzz, and maybe you should check it out (and tell me how it works for you!).

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[Freelance Life] A Day in the Life of Amy Palanjian

So Pretty! Crochet by Amy PalanjianSo Pretty! Felt by Amy Palanjian

So now that you’ve seen how I work the Magic Hour and spend too much time talking to my cats, it’s time for our first official peek at a day in the life of another freelancer. Kicking things off is the very awesome Amy Palanjian. Amy and I bonded instantly when we were hired as assistant editors at the now-dead Organic Style in 2004. The magazine was run on such a shoestring budget that instead of having cubicles, we shared a conference table with two other editors — ensuring that we would either get entirely sick of each other or become best friends. Spoiler alert: It was the latter. 

I’ve decided that in addition to hearing how these freelance writers spend their day, you’re also going to want to hear a little bit about what kind of work they do and how they got where they are — so keep reading for that conversation with Amy after her daily routine.

Here is Amy:

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Who Makes Less Than $10.10 per Hour? Women.

Just a quick one because I wanted to share this compelling infographic designed by the National Women’s Law Center. Per the email they sent around:

[Last week] Senator Harkin and Representative Miller introduced the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013. This bill would gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, then provide for automatic adjustments linked to changes in the cost of living. The bill would also gradually raise the minimum wage for tipped workers, which has been frozen at just $2.13 per hour for more than 20 years. And let’s not forget President Obama’s words of support for increasing the minimum wage in his most recent State of the Union address. 

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[The Freelance Life] On Writing for “Exposure” and What We Need to Do About It

Here is a rule that I have about email: Once more than five people send me a link to something, I have to really read it and Have Thoughts. This week, it will not surprise you to hear that the link I keep getting emailed is Nate Thayer’s dust-up with The Atlantic when one of their online editors asked him to write a 1200 word article for “exposure.” (If you missed this whole deal and want a good summary of how The Atlantic and general world responded to Nate’s post, check out Jane Friedman’s excellent write-up here.)

“Exposure” is just a fancy word for “free.” As regular readers of this blog know, I am not a fan of working for free, although there are a few respectable instances where you might decide that it makes sense and exposure is one of them. Ironic case in point: I let that very blog post about not working for free be re-posted to Medium and Ed2010 for free – because those sites are run by colleagues who I like and respect and because I know they have lots of freelancers among their readership, so the piece could reach people who would find it helpful.

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Sexism and Body Shaming, Oscars Edition

I fully admit to falling asleep after Russell Crowe ruined the Les Mis group singalong, but now that I’ve caught up on the remaining 19 hours of the Oscars last night, there are a few things I think we need to talk about.

1. Enough with the Black Swanning already.

Forget your feelings about her nipple-y dress and overly earnest acceptance speech, Anne Hathaway killed it f*cking dead as Fantine and I’m glad she won. At the same time, I am not excited about two big wins, two years in a row, for already-tiny actresses winnowing down to skeleton size for these roles. I know there’s a case to be made for method acting and I guess, yes, an 18th century French prostitute dying of consumption would be pretty starved-looking. (Though the chicks who played her on Broadway never seem to need to go there.) See also an insane ballerina. But the media frenzy around these weight-loss-for-art stories only reinforces our skewed ideas about what women need to look like to be successful. We do not get this lathered up when male actors change their body shape for a part, period. It also gets in the way of appreciating the fine acting these women are actually doing because instead of talking about the interesting choices they made with their brains, we’re thinking, as usual, that women are their bodies and not much more.

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