just keeping my head above water

Soooo. Hi. I’ve been a little absent. Not just here, but in my whole life!  A few weeks ago I was asked to take on an extra book project for work, on top of the three different books I was already working on. At first I said no. I really didn’t have time. So they sweetened the pot a bit and I just couldn’t refuse. It’s a huge rush job and well, that money will more than pay for our vacation AND BlogHer in August. So, yeah.

Here’s the thing, when you freelance it’s really hard to say no to work – you never know when the next project will come along (maybe months) and if they give this contract to someone else, well that someone else might just get asked first next time. Paranoid much? Yep. But sometimes I take on more than I can reasonably do. Oops.

Anyway, the lure of extra cash hooked me and now I’m working 12 hour days, including weekends, to keep up with it all. I don’t have a moment to spare for anything. Not groceries, not sleep, not cleaning, (oh, darn!) not even Words with Friends (gasp, I know!) I didn’t even go to that one day conference last week after all. I didn’t cancel the babysitter though, I basically paid her to play Monopoly with my kid while I put in headphones and pretended they weren’t there.

It’s going to be like this until the day we leave for vacation, it will be like this again starting the day we get back, and it will last until sometime near the end of May when all four projects come to a close. So if you don’t hear from me until then, you know why!

Oh, and this boy? He turned NINE almost 2 weeks ago and I didn’t even have time to tell you. Sheesh.

 

the problem with pinterest

This is going to be a really unpopular post. Some of you might even get pissed off at me. Why? Because so many of you LOVE Pinterest. Believe me, I want to love it too. The concept is fun, photos are gorgeous, the recipes and crafts are inspirational. All of that is exactly what it is meant to be and it does it well. That’s why its popularity is exploding.

Except. Do you know what else is happening on Pinterest? Massive amounts of copyright violations.

I’m personally really struggling with this. In real life I’m a photo editor. I find publication quality photos, I contact photographers, I sign contracts with them, and I PAY them for the use of their images. It’s my job and my eyes and brain are trained to look for copyright issues.

In some of my spare time I go online, hang out on Twitter and FB, read blogs, take photos and share them on Instagram. A few weeks ago I realized Pinterest wasn’t one of those social media sites that flames quickly and then dies. It’s going to be around for awhile, so, I caved and joined. And loved it. So PRETTY! SO ADDICTIVE!

Then I took another look. Deeper into where these gorgeous images were coming from. Who shot them? Who do they really belong to? Who is getting the credit? The link love?

And then I started to squirm.

I followed trails back to original sources. A few were linked to the actual photographer. Great! PIN AWAY! Some pins were from Tumblr sites or other blogs that had pulled the images from Flickr or the like. If the original photo was listed as creative commons, well fab, but what if they weren’t? Some of the pins I looked at were actually watermarked with copyright information but there was no link back to the website clearly on the watermark. Just as grievous – that many pins are pulled directly from Google images, a clear violation of any copyrighted image.

SO MANY of these are stolen photos my friends. Stolen from the photographers who took them, some who make their living off of them.

This is not okay.

Pinterest does address this issue in their Copyright section. I suggest if you haven’t read it then you should before you add any new pins or repin any existing ones. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

So, here’s the part that really bothers me:

If you are a copyright owner, or are authorized to act on behalf of one, or authorized to act under any exclusive right under copyright, please report alleged copyright infringements taking place on or through the Site by completing the following DMCA Notice of Alleged Infringement and delivering it to Pinterest’s Designated Copyright Agent. Upon receipt of the Notice as described below, Pinterest will take whatever action, in its sole discretion, it deems appropriate, including removal of the challenged material from the Site.

This puts the onus on the PHOTOGRAPHER to make sure none of their images are on the site without their permission. Really? How the heck will they ever know?? And if you do find a photo in violation, and jump through the hoops to get it pulled or properly linked, how do you keep the next person from pinning it yet again? You can’t. It’s impossible. So copyright infringements will proliferate.

Now let me be clear about this. I think that 99% of the people who pin stolen photos don’t do it on purpose. Most people just don’t think about it at all. They just pin or repin what they like, without any concept of copyright law. People think twice when it comes to copying WORDS – well everyone knows that’s plagiarism! Except the same is true for photos!

If you are a blogger, or a photographer, (whether professional or amateur doesn’t matter) how would you feel if you found one of your images pinned directly from your blog or your Flickr account or wherever? Great, right? Someone really liked your work and you get the clicks and everyone is happy. Now think how you would feel if if you found one of your photos on Pinterest but the link went to some other blog post that someone created using your image with no credit back to you? A little different right? Yeah.

Clearly Pinterest is not going anywhere any time soon, and neither is this rights issue. So I ask you, please,  if you are on Pinterest, please be mindful of photographer’s property. If you are uncertain about a photo’s original source, try to find it and if you do, pin it from there instead. Most of the time it only takes a few extra clicks to pin from the actual owner, instead of from the person who knowingly or unknowingly stole it from them. At least give the copyright holder the credit and the click-throughs.

 

on contracts, composites, and covers

I rarely talk about work here, mostly because of the I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you confidentiality clause in my contracts. If I can’t actually talk about it, it’s hard to find much to say, you know? I can’t ever reveal much of anything I’m doing until the books are published, and by then they aren’t on my on radar anymore!

The thing is, if I never say anything about work, no one realizes that, well, yeah, I work. A lot! But that’s a whole post of it’s own…

Just to clarify, for those of you new here, I’m a freelance photo editor, working on children’s books for a large publisher. Mostly I work on science books, (animals and such,) and sometimes history books. In a nutshell, they give me a raw manuscript, and I find the photos that fit it best, and then do a bunch of paperwork to buy the rights to use it.

I love my job. It fits me and my life better than I ever could have hoped to find. It took me a long time and lots of grunt work in the industry to get here. But I worry. Will the work dry up? Will more contracts come easily or am I going to have to market myself? That kind of stuff. Every six months or so I wonder if pretty soon I’m going to have to look for a real job.

Well, a few weeks ago I got one contract offer that is more than I made on all of my combined contracts last year. On top of the other smaller contracts I already have going right now. This means I have twice as much work as I did last year, with twice as much time and effort that I’ll have to put into it! Scary! Where am I going to find the time??

This is a good thing though. This means I don’t have to worry again until about March of 2011. This means I don’t have to look for a real job, I have one. Okay, well, I had a real job all along. It’s just hard to believe it when I can do it in my pajamas living room, but whatever.

So, in the new contract is this one book that is making me want to throw my monitor through a window frustrating me right now. I’ve been trying to find the perfect cover image for it. The cover is what sells the book, and it has to be exactly right. This one photo, this elusive image that my editors are begging for, doesn’t seem to exist. ~sigh~

A couple of times now I’ve thought I’ve found it, only to discover it’s a composite image. Ugh! No! That means the photographer took two (or more) images and photoshopped them to look like one. Yuck, with an f. (Sorry Mom.)

Now this is a book publisher that prides itself on excellent images. We don’t do composites unless we absolutely have to. And if we have to we can do it ourselves! Yes, I am a photography snob. Heh.

(This post is starting to feel rambling and pointless. Hey, that’s like, my old groove back!)

Long story short, if you’re wondering what I’m doing at any given time, there’s a good bet I’m trying to find the holy grail of photos for whatever book (or four) I happen to be working on. Looking at pictures all day? Yeah, I know, it’s not a bad gig.

friday is always a good day for bullets

Apparently I’m a slacker, a blog slacker that is. The rest of my life is going at break neck pace. This calls for bullets!

checking in

Hey peeps! Here’s what I’m doing today:

Blog, work, work, wii fit, work, work, work, groceries, work, work, work, tweet, work, work, work, work, facebook, work, work, work, hug my neglected kid, work, work, work, work, ignore dishes in the sink, work, work, work, work, work, work, do dishes right before hubby gets home, work, work, work, bed.

I did find a few minutes recently to write a new post for GNM Parents – I hope you’ll go check it out!

What are you doing this fine sunny Monday?

my fear, in focus

There aren’t many things in this world I’m actually afraid of. Spiders don’t bother me, small spaces are cozy, storms are exciting, the dark just puts me to sleep, and flying is fun. Public speaking is, well, okay, I don’t really like public speaking. I don’t fear mice, or dogs, or insects, frogs, elevators, heights, being alone or being in a crowd. You get the idea. The things that scare many people don’t scare me. Except one thing.

Black snake in Virginia, LOC

Image credit: Library of Congress

When I was a little kid I would lay in bed with my arms tucked in as tight as could be. I was afraid that if my hand hung over the bed that snakes would get me. Seriously. I was convinced there were snakes living under the bed, in the toilet, the the trees, in the basement, in the garage, under the shed, etc. I lived in Maine people. There are barely any snakes in Maine, and certainly no poisonous ones.

Even as a grown-up I still hate snakes. I don’t have nightmares anymore but there is no way on earth I would ever willingly touch one, or even be in a room with one. When we lived in Virgina there was a nasty big black snake that lived under our front steps. I found out when I found a freshly shed skin on the walk one morning. I freaked. The neighbor said that there was one under every porch on the block and to leave it alone – it was good because it ate mice. I said that’s why I have a cat. I desperately wanted to move. And we did just a few months later. Heh, if you ask my husband we moved for a job, if you ask me, we moved to get away from the snake.

Anyway. All this just to say, guess what I’m working on right now? Yeah. A book about snakes. You know what my job is by now right? I’m a photo editor. I get the photos for the book. Yeah. Lots and lots of pictures of snakes. Images of snakes hissing, and slithering, and birthing, showing fangs, and hatching, and eating, and squeezing and…oh my god. Images that are now burned into my brain. Let me tell you something right now, me looking for pictures of ‘pythons constricting large animals’ right before bed, is not a good idea.

PS. I need a slap on the hand for not keep you all up to date on the goings on at ChapterBytes. We have two new chapters up, Chapter 17 written by Karen, and Chapter 18 by B. This story is really moving along and I’m so impressed with the writers! Would you like to write a chapter but you’re being shy about it? Send me an email, let’s talk! catnip35 at gmail dot com.

bloggy business cards

Okay – here’s my business card design – or at least close to it. I actually did this myself and DH is going to tweak it for me tonight before I get them printed. What do y’all think?

When you see that b/w icon – you know it’s me right away, right? I try to use it on all my accounts so it’s immediately recognizable.

Of course, two of those three urls aren’t actually working yet – but they will before Oct. 11 (2 weeks!!) when I go to the BlogHer Reach Out in Boston.

Tell me if you love it or hate it – I’m hopefully printing tomorrow!

where were you?

I was in my office, just starting my day, when a co-worker came in and told me her mother called and said a missile had hit a building in New York. We thought that sounded very strange so I tried going to CNN.com, MSNBC.com, every internet news site I could think of, but none of them worked. Even stranger.

We thought of the TV in the conference room. The reception was terrible with those old rabbit ears, but we made it work. The more we watched, the more colleagues joined us, and the more horrified we were. We were watching live when the second plane hit. The entire group was stunned into silence, until these co-workers of mine, military and aviation experts all, called it for what they knew it was. It wasn’t a missile, it was a plane, a big plane. As bad as the picture was, they clearly recognized it, long before the analysis on the news got it right.

The room became very crowded. I couldn’t have left my seat if I’d wanted to. I didn’t want to. All eyes were glued to the screen, ears straining to hear the tiny speakers. Talking in the room was only a slight whisper. Anything louder was quickly shushed.

The reception got worse, only one channel came in, and only with someone standing up, holding the antennae, using their body to attract the signal.

Time passed, rumors were heard. Rumors about bombs at the World Bank, rumors about bombs at the USA Today building, rumors about Reagan National Airport, and then Dulles Airport, just a few miles away. Rumors about news buildings being targets. And the White House of course. Rumors about the Pentagon. Wait.

New pictures on the screen. The Pentagon was not a rumor. Neither was the plane in Pennsylvania. This terrible reality just got closer to us personally, a lot closer. My colleagues knew what that meant. Imminent war. At this moment, some kind of war was beginning, we just didn’t know exactly what that war would look like.

Some of us watched longer, unable to look away, while others drifted back to their offices, hoping to get some normalcy out of the day. They were hiding out, not wanting to know any more. I couldn’t blame anyone for that. Especially after those of us left watched the first tower crumble with tears streaming down our faces. I was glad I wasn’t alone then.

After the second tower came down, our boss quietly told us all to go home. He was closing the office and wanted us to go be with our families. It was a relief to leave to have a reason to get away from the TV for a few minutes, to get away from other people.

I got in my car, and sat for a moment. I was listening to a little voice in the back of my head. Don’t get on the highway it said. The last thing I wanted to do was get on a crowded highway, and get stuck in massive traffic. Traffic is bad on a normal day, this was Northern Virginia after all. I knew a back way, a dirt road that led almost all the way home. Halfway down the dirt road, I heard the traffic update. Everyone who got on that highway was there for hours and hours. I spent those same hours at home, alone, back in front of the news.

I remember how bad the phone lines were. I was able to call my parents in Maine, but not my husband two miles away. For awhile cell phones were easier to get through on, then nothing at all worked. DH wouldn’t come home, couldn’t come home. He worked in the news business and news people don’t get to stop working in a crisis.

I wasn’t a mom yet. I wondered that day if I ever would be, if I should even bring a baby into such a horrible world. I changed my mind about that, but one this day every year, I remember that helplessness, hopelessness, and the terrible terrible sadness. I remember and pray for everyone affected by the events of 9/11 and its aftermath.

Where were you that morning? Do you remember much? I realized today that I had some trouble remembering the details. I wrote this today so I wouldn’t forget how I personally felt and what I did and who was around me. I don’t want my only memories to be the ones I see on the ceremonial shows every year. I don’t want my own experience to get cloudy. Never never forget.

The Pentagon, 9/11/01, Department of Defense/US Navy photo.

a do-over

When I was younger I had lots of ideas about what I wanted to be when I grew up. For a long time I thought I would be a veterinarian because I loved animals, then in high school my dream was to be an engineer to be like my father, then when I started college I wanted to be a lawyer only because it sounded cool, and I couldn’t think of anything better.

I wasn’t there long before I realized that I wasn’t cut out to be a lawyer, for sure. When it came time to make a real decision I just couldn’t do it. Eventually I majored in US History because it was there. It felt sort of right. I loved history, and the fantasy of working behind the scenes in a musty, dusty museum filled my mind.

Well, guess what? Museum jobs were few and far between, and paid terribly. And were not nearly as romantic as I’d imagined. Blech.

So what else do you do with a History degree? Not much apparently. Teach? Soooo not for me. That’s become only more evident as I get older!

I held a lot of different jobs over the years, and eventually landed a job as a photo editor in a group of history magazines. It was pretty perfect for me for quite some time. Then, after I had the boy, I started thinking about other ways to earn a living than going to a job every day. It took some time, but I was very lucky and fell in to doing freelance photo editing for a large children’s book publisher. Even after moving back to New Hampshire I’ve been able to continue to work for them remotely. Right now I have the best of both worlds, I make a little bit of money, but I get to stay home with my boy.

As fortunate as I am, sometimes I wonder what could have been. Not about my family, I wouldn’t change them for anything. But if I could have a career do-over what would it be?

If I had known myself better at 18 years old, if I had known what my life interests would be now, I would probably have been a meteorologist. To be exact, I’d be….a Storm Chaser! Show me some green on a radar and I’ll sit there for hours and analyze it, with The Weather Channel on in the background. Have mercy, I am such a dork.

Someday, after my boy is on his own, I like to think DH and I will sell everything we own, including our house, and buy a big RV. I imagine outfitting it with all the latest technology. What? We’re both computer dorks! I want my own Doppler dammit! We’re going to be that old couple, who drive all around the country all the time, only we’ll be following the storms. I’d just love to help forecast the bad ones, and maybe even make a difference. Naive? Maybe, but I think it’s nice dream to have.

If you had a job or school do-over, would you change anything? Knowing what you know now would you have taken a different career path or stayed the same course?

again with the bullets

Yep, it’s one of those days – better to write bullets than nothing at all!

Maybe, maybe tomorrow I’ll have a real post. If I can stand to rewrite the lost one. Ugh.

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