Archive for October, 2011

Style File: guest post on Moonfrye.com

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

Today’s gift:  my guest STYLE post on the fabulous lifestyle/parenting web site Moonfrye.com!

http://www.moonfrye.com/profiles/blogs/what-to-wear-by-guest-blogger-laura-rossi-totten

What TO Wear! by Guest Blogger Laura Rossi Totten

Today’s Moonfrye Style guest blogger is Laura Rossi Totten! She’s a blogger, writer, and public relations expert…and a mom to twins! Check out Laura on Facebook and Twitter.

What TO Wear!

by Laura Rossi Totten

Laura Rossi Totten is a blogger and a public relations expert. Laura’s writing has been featured in many places including the NPR station WRNI-FM. GalleyCat/MediaBistro named her a “2011 Best Book Publicity and Marketing Twitter feed.” She’s been profiled on SheWrites.com and CircleofMoms.com. Visit Laura’s blog My So-Called Sensory Life: 365 Unexpected Gifts from Motherhood and her website Laura Rossi Public Relations. Follow her on Twitter @BookPRGirl. You’ll find Laura shopping, accessorizing, blogging, being a Mom-of-Twins and reading in her free time!

When I was a teenager, I plastered my lavender bedroom walls with images and advertisements from Vogue, Elle, Glamour and other fashion magazines.  Claude Montana, Benetton, Fendi — the representation of designers and apparel on my walls rivaled New York Fashion Week.

Today when I come across a vintage fashion ad, an iconic image or a resurrected brand, I’m instantly transported back to that bedroom.   An aspiring fashionista, I loved finding consignment shop treasures, unique pieces, Antique Boutique one-of-a-kind items and long forgotten basement treasures.  I will never forget the real Burberry skirt that was my favorite go-to piece in both high-school and college!  I grew up where The Official Preppy Handbook was the style guide of record and so my interest in fashion only grew as I did.

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When I moved to NYC in my 20s to work in publishing, my sense of self and my fashion sense blossomed.  I spent a lot of time window shopping and even more time saving my measly publishing salary for must-haves but I was living the fashion capital of the world and with time my closet bulged with sample sale items, fabulous brands, vintage gems and accessories and bags to match my every mood.

But somewhere between my 90s NYC fashion plate days and the 2003 birth of my twins, my fashion flame flickered.  Of course, the Vogue worshipping teen girl still lives in me.  In fact, she proudly survived my move to the suburbs,  maternity clothes (for a twin pregnancy!) and a reduced shopping budget.  But when I wasn’t looking, in my late 30s, stealthy black yoga pants eclipsed her shining light.

This summer I turned 42 and before a caring relative could nominate for TLC’s What Not To Wear, I invited the fashion-loving-girl-inside to go shopping!

And in doing so, I realized this:  I still have my own unique style, and even though I am a working Mom with my own business and a busy family life, I can be on trend, look and feel stylish and interpret fashions in an age appropriate way.

To celebrate my reunion with my inner fashionista here are my 5 What TO Wear Rules

  1. You get what you pay for ladies! Quality over quantity is what really matters and always will — especially when you get older.  Investing in key pieces will preserve your wardrobe and make your body look great.  Fit and fabric and cut determine if you are a Fashion Do or a Fashion Don’t.  A great black pant, for example, goes a long way as does a classic little black dress with a twist.

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  1. Never, EVER under-estimate the power of a great accessory. I have a new favorite jewelry designer and their pieces (especially necklaces) are statement pieces that make any look an instant“Wow”!

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  1. 3. Save when and where it matters! Layering pieces, camis, and even t-shirts don’t have to break the bank.  Visit discount retailers that carry designer fashions and you’ll find treasures at great prices every time.

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  1. 4. Bag-a-plooza.  For an instant wardrobe update, change your handbag.  Pick a fun color or style and you will modernize your whole look.  I love a great clutch.  And as a busy Mom, I am addicted to the fold and go expandable bags — they come in juicy colors and all sizes. I pick seasonal colors to finish my look knowing these great bags hide DS devices, snacks and juice boxes!

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  1. 5. Don’t forget to finish your look – you should want to wear your outerwear inside. Coats, jackets, scarves, capes, ponchos — they all matter and they can make or break your look.  In the same way a beautifully wrapped gift makes a first impression and sets the tone, so does your outer-package.  So take care to wrap up your look the right way!

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I wonder where that Burberry skirt is …

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Hey Moonfrye.com fashionistas!  Post a picture of your unique look here on the site or a photo of your favorite fashion piece here and we may feature it in a future fashion blog post.

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About

Laura Rossi Totten has over twenty years of experience as a book publishing and public relations professional.  In New York City, she ran publicity campaigns for many celebrity and bestselling authors at such prestigious publishing houses as Random House / Bantam Doubleday Dell, The Dial Press, Viking Penguin and W.W. Norton & Company.

Laura’s book publicity experience includes working with Terry McMillan, Stephen King, Nicholas Evans, Danielle Steel, Elmore Leonard, Sara Paretsky, Elizabeth McCracken, Gina Barreca, Wynton Marsalis, John Cleese, Walter Mosley, Jane Brody, John Grisham, Dennis Rodman, John Lescroart, Paul Krugman, Garrison Keillor, T.C.Boyle, Chuck D and Fay Weldon among many others.

Laura’s public relations agency experience includes leading media initiatives for national clients in the fashion, food, home, nonprofit and design industries including The TJX Companies (T.J.Maxx, Marshalls, Homegoods), Chadwick’s, Bread & Circus/Whole Foods, Bertucci’s, Backyard Farms,  Fidelity Capital/Devonshire Investors, Easter Seals, World Trade Center Boston, Altitude Inc., Shoebuy.com, The Seaport Hotel, Amica Insurance and Ross-Simons among others.

In September 2011, Laura Rossi Totten made her own book publishing debut as a contributor to MAKE MINE A DOUBLE edited by Gina Barreca (University of New England Press).  The book is a collection of witty, intelligent, and provocative pieces from a diverse community of voices including such luminaries as Fay Weldon, Wendy Liebman, Amy Bloom, Liza Donnelly, Nicole Hollander, Beth Jones, and Dawn Lundy Martin.  Laura’s chapter “Moms’ Club” has been called “fresh” and “funny.”

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I Can See Clearly Now

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Today’s gift:  new glasses! Red accented glasses! For me!

I love my new specs.

I’ve always considered my glasses a very important accessory — the perfect pair makes for a flawless silhouette.  Like makeup, jewelry, and hair style, glasses are a fashion choice that shouldn’t make your “Fashion Do” a “Fashion Don’t.”

In the past, I’ve chosen neutral frames.  Because of the high price tag, my glasses needed to work hard for me all the time.  So when I heard about 1800specs.com and the site’s great (cheap) prices, I knew it was time to unleash my inner Sally Jesse Raphael!

For full disclosure:  I had the opportunity to trial 1800specs.com (in exchange for an honest review).  1800specs.com aims to make stylish prescription eye-wear affordable for everyone.  Most glasses sell for at least $150 (US) but 1800specs.com makes glasses available for as little as $20 per pair.   I believe that glasses should be affordable and that is the idea behind 1800specs.com — the site promises great prices, the same quality eye-wear boutiques and chains sell and great customer service.  All of this is literally at your fingertips — with just a few clicks you’ll have your glasses delivered to your door in 7-14 days.  And because the site offers a 365 return policy there is no risk.

I also learned a few other things while shopping:

1.  The offerings at 1800specs aren’t knock-offs, they are the exact same frames and lenses selling for hundreds more elsewhere.

2.  All lenses are ground and assembled in the USA.

3.  Most people don’t realize their eyeglasses prescription is theirs and that  they have a right to receive it from their optometrist at any time in order to buy glasses.

4.  Contrary to what I thought, ordering glasses online is easy — just have your prescription and lenses choices by your side when you are ready to shop.  Since the site has a “favorites” option you can shop for the looks you like and then narrow down your choices with a few mouse clicks.  And because the price is so low, you can treat yourself to more than one pair!

I’m thrilled with my glasses and I’m telling everyone about 1800specs.com.

For more information or to order your new glasses click this logo and start shopping!

The Chronicle of Higher Education

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Today’s gift:  I’m a guest blogger for The Chronicle of Higher Education!

STUDENT JOB QUESTIONS ASKED AND ANSWERED / Gina Barreca

guest post by Laura Rossi Totten

I suggested that two English majors–Laura Rossi Totten, a former undergraduate assistant who graduated from UConn in 1991, and Samuel Ferrigno, my current assistant, who will get his B.A. in 2012–address the issue of how doing the everyday tasks expected of students who regularly perform work-study duties or hold similar positions might actually benefit them in their work lives after graduation.

I figured that it’s time to let my grown-up students start giving advice about the current workplace to those graduates hoping to enter it. Laura, now principal at Laura Rossi Public Relations, has worked with hundreds of authors, academic as well as trade (I consider my influence a good one); she worked at Penguin, Norton, and other major publishing houses before starting her own firm.

Sam, who has been working with me since the summer, is starting to get nervous about finding a job when he graduates in May. Smart, witty, articulate, energetic, and ambitious, Sam will be fine, I think, but what he needs to hear is how he’s going to get from where he is (working for me in my basement office) to where Laura is (working for herself in her own office).

I suggested that they talk about it. Their exchange is below.

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Dear Laura:
I am happy to be working in my professor’s office, but I’m a little confused about the grunt work. How will doing bottom-feeding, peon tasks lead to a better understanding of my future life as a professional in publishing, or the world of not-for-profits, or, for that matter, clown school?

Surely such noble institutions hire people with a more diversified skill base than “Knows how to Xerox an article”?

Nearly all my responsibilities seem to rely on basic motor skills. For example, I  spend time tidying up, answering the phone, dealing with the mail, and typing out passages of documents I could probably find on the Internet but which my boss wants me to copy from her dog-eared personal collection of disintegrating file copies.

Then, of course, there is my favorite high-profile activity: washing the dishes. (It’s true that Prof. Barreca does either buy us lunch or brings it from home—I’ll give her that. We certainly eat well in this office.)

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. I am thankful for the opportunity to work indoors as well as for the paycheck. I’m happy to be free of “work-study” although I was also grateful for that when I needed it. That Barreca pays me out of her own monies means that she can request the dishes from lunch be washed without irate tax-payers demanding an audit.

But what I can’t figure out, however, is how shredding old letters of recommendation is suitable preparation for a “real job.” Is it? She said you might be able to guide me in this. When I was offered the part-time position to be Barreca’s assistant, my expectations were slightly higher than the sink and went beyond the keyboard.

I know you were once in my position. And although when you were here, the university actually still employed a janitorial staff to pick up the trash rather than telling the faculty it was now their job, I suspect our experiences working for Prof. Barreca are  similar. I’m pretty sure you had to do similar remedial tasks every day and I know for a fact we’re still using the same phone; it is from 1989. It should be on Antiques Road Show.

Yet (and this is where I’m hoping you’ll shed some light) you’ve now established a substantial and rewarding career. How? What path led you from THIS work to YOUR work?

Sam

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Dear Sam:

While I’ve never thought of examining–specifically–how working in Barreca’s office as an assistant back in the late-80s (were you even born?) was a dress rehearsal for my post-university life and how it prepared me to found my own successful business as an independent publicist, it’s sort of fun to think about how one thing led to another. And I’m delighted to help anybody find  the hidden gifts in the seemingly mundane tasks of filing and Xeroxing, since that’s how anybody (anybody with a degree in the Humanities, anyway!) usually starts out.

So, at the risk of sounding like a know-it-all, here’s my best advice in terms of making the work you’re doing now make sense in terms of your professional life:

1.     Transcribing voicemail messages, typing memos, creating schedules, booking travel arrangements, making phone calls, fetching this or that, filing, and (gasp) dictation — these administrative tasks are the foundation of most positions.  Do them well and without complaining.

2.     The only answer to your employer’s reasonable request: an enthusiastic YES! (There’s no such thing as too much enthusiasm, although Gina might get suspicious if you start cheering when asked to deal with the trash.)

3.     Don’t take your time at the keyboard lightly. Read as you type; she’s usually asking you to enter some great texts. Your writing can improve if you spend time in the company of good prose. Great sentence structure can open doors.  Try to avoid mistakes–even small ones. Proof that email you send out under your name; you never know who’ll read it.

4.     Be flexible in terms of your schedule. If you can, stay later than usual to finish a job if there’s a deadline (but never sacrifice your own work for classes–Barreca still makes that clear, right?) and if you need time off, ask for it in advance if possible.

5.     Be reliable when it comes to your own pace (and level) of work; consistency is a virtue.

6.     Do not pretend or posture–swallow your pride and ask a lot of questions especially about complicated computer programs, filing systems, or what something means.

7.     Listen.

8.     You may be in a cluttered windowless office in the middle of cow country–but this position is real and lays the foundation for all that is to come … so treat it that way.

I admit that it was hard for me to see my future career in my late teens/early 20s as I called The New York Times and Ms. magazine to request tear sheets, but looking back to that bookish office I know now that is where my publishing career quietly started.

Be polite to EVERYONE you meet–the voice on the phone may recommend you for a job, become your new friend, or in some other unexpected way, make your day. You never know, right? Apart from the paycheck, I usually came away from that office with a story, a piece of advice, and a snack. And then, one day, I came away with a letter of introduction that lead to my first job.

Let me know how I can help, Sam, OK? Thanks for asking.

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Here is the link to the site (please comment!):

http://chronicle.com/blogs/brainstorm/student-job-questions-asked-answered/40605

The Sounds of Silence

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Today’s gift:  M’s teacher sent this email about his vocalizations, non-contextual sounds, and vocal tics

“What an awesome day M had!  Numbers were low again straight across the day!”

Just The Right Book!

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Today’s gift:  books, books, and more books!  Delivered right to my door!

Just the Right Book.com — an online personal shopping service for books and readers that brings readers the independent bookstore experience virtually.

Just the Right Book.com is a literary e-gift and subscription service that has been lauded since its launch for its uncanny ability to match readers of all ages with books they’ll love.  Wow, right?

Founded by the brilliant Roxanne Coady of award-winning R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison (CT), the service is fueled by Roxanne and her knowledgeable team of booksellers.  With a combined experience of over 100 years, the staff at JustTheRightBook is built on the idea that no two readers are alike, and that our personal tastes, experiences and even moods should dictate which books we like to read.  JTRB matches the right book to the right reader.

Book lovers can visit the site, quickly answer a few questions (about your reading tastes or for a gift the preferences of  your nephew, mother, best friend, etc). Then, the staff of JustTheRightBook.com will draw on their collective experience and choose a series of books keenly matched to you.  Another wow!  And, JustTheRightBook is so confident about choosing “just the right book” for you or your giftee that satisfaction is guaranteed.

My favorite part:  ordering books through JustTheRightBook! affords anyone the luxury of having a brilliant personal shopper  — in fact a team of brilliant personal shoppers –  hand selecting books just for you.

For more information and to take the quiz visit JustTheRightBook.com:

http://www.justtherightbook.com

On facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JustTheRightBook?sk=wall

On twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JTRBook

I’m an avid reader and giving myself the gift of JTRB today!

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ABOUT ROXANNE COADY, Founder, Just the Right Book!

Nearly twenty years ago, Roxanne J. Coady left her role as the first female National Tax Director at international accounting firm BDO Seidman, to pursue a passion for books in a small coastal town in Connecticut. Restoring an in-town structure, she established RJ Julia Booksellers in Madison, and along with an incredible group of booksellers transformed her charming local store into a nationally recognized authority on books.

Roxanne is an industry speaker and trend expert, well-known for her ongoing contributions as a book authority on NPR and wowOwow.com among other media outlets. She frequently forecasts reading trends and reports on new releases, including guest appearances on “Good Morning America” and the “Today” show. She has served as a panel discussion moderator for Pen World Voices Festival, and American Booksellers Association conferences.

With a small group of women, Roxanne Coady founded “Read To Grow,” a non-profit organization in Connecticut whose mission is to improve early literacy.  In addition, among several boards, she is a member of the Governor’s Early Childhood Research and Policy Council Board and the Kenyon Review. She has also served for many years on the boards of the American Booksellers Association and the New England Booksellers Association. The recipient of numerous business honors, she is also the co-editor of The Book That Changed My Life:  71 Remarkable Writers Celebrate The Books That Matter Most to Them, edited with Joy Johannessen.

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8 Tips on How to Stay Married Forever – Iris Krasnow

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Today’s gift:  my marriage.  Celebrating it, loving it, preserving it.

Bestselling author Iris Krasnow’s great “8 Tips on How to Stay Married Forever” are must-read, must-print tips for all married couples.

8 Tips on How to Stay Married Forever

Inspired by Iris Krasnow’s

THE SECRET LIVES OF WIVES

On-Sale Now / Published October 2011

1. It’s okay, even healthy, to have secrets: It’s your relationship, not anyone else’s, and there is no gold standard marriage. Everyone has issues, problems, and most importantly, their own secrets, so don’t worry that your marriage isn’t measuring up. No one knows what’s really going on in a marriage except the two people in it. That gives each of us the freedom to write our own rules and keep our own secrets.

2. You don’t get it all it one place. Staying married takes bold creativity, a variety of sideline adventures. If you depend on one person in one house to sustain you until death do you part that’s a ticket to divorce. A marriage that runs on multiple tracks makes for a happier wife who gets to have it both ways — a committed marriage and adventures in uncharted territory.

3. Resurrect childhood passions. Those hobbies and sports you loved to do, and excelled at, as a child bring raw primal energy and invigorated self-esteem. Take up surfing again, become a potter, get back on a horse, go back to school. Too often those hobbies of childhood get left behind as we sit on benches and watch our children race around playing fields and accrue academic kudos. Getting back out there yourself and re-engaging with the best of the old brings on a re-birth of youthful optimism and vigor.

4. Hang out with outrageous girlfriends: The wives with the highest marital satisfaction have a tight circle of wild and warm women friends with whom to drink, travel and vent. With women in their early 90s comprising the fastest growing segment of the aging population, and many marriages lasting more than 50 years, we’re going to need all the laughs and support we can get! Our girlfriends, ever-forgiving and always empathetic, provide the escape hatch from the inevitable storms and challenges that come with long marriages.

5. Take Separate Vacations – or Separate Summers: You like to camp and your husband likes to golf? Spend a month in the Adirondacks while he goes with his buddies to Scottsdale or better yet, Scotland. After some weeks apart from each other, removed from the grind of ordinary life, marriage seems way hotter than the tepid state in which you left each other in. Couples who allow each other to grow separately are the ones with the best chance of growing together and staying together.

6. Indulge in boy-best-friendships: Platonic friendships are a sexy pick-me-up without the complications of adultery. Women who love the company of men shouldn’t have to eliminate male friends from their lives; these extra-marital males who always think we’re smart and beautiful (because they don’t live with us) are actually a relief for any smart husband. Benign boyfriends that offer manly insights and advice means less work for the man you are married to.

7. Lower your expectations: It’s a dangerous fantasy to think marriage really means happily-ever-after. Expecting perfection in a marriage or a mate is a fast ticket to divorce. This realization forces women in aging marriages to be urgent about creating their own purpose and passions outside of their relationships. Marital bliss is possible if each partner is blissful without the other.

8. Be grateful: In between wifely gallivants and self-exploration, remember to love the guy you’re with – kiss him hello and goodbye, and make time for conversation and intimacy, no matter how crammed your schedules are. Remember to thank the confident and flexible husband that allows you to have an independent and fulfilling life beyond your marriage. Don’t try to win every fight; give in, surrender and say “I’m sorry” (even if you’re not sorry one bit) instead of holding onto snarly anger that forms toxic wedges over time. Demonstrating ongoing vulnerability and compassion definitely makes spouses behave better. And the ability to bounce back from strife and arguments is the real secret that makes marriages last forever.

Inspired by Iris Krasnow’s THE SECRET LIVES OF WIVES (Gotham Books; On-Sale October 2011)

www.iriskrasnow.com

Buy the book by clicking here.

Facebook link click here.

Make Mine A…Real Housewife of The Bluegrass!

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Today’s gift:  a Mom blogger I love and admire and am proud to call a friend and colleague in Blogging and Mom-ing, K.C. features me on her blog to help me celebrate my publishing debut in the collection MAKE MINE A DOUBLE: Why Women Like Us Like To Drink (or Not) edited by Gina Barreca (UPNE, September 2011).

K.C. is a great writer and a new friend. She went to great lengths to put together this feature including working with the publisher to arrange an “official” excerpt.  She is a dream. What can I say about K.C. ?  She says it best in her own words from her fantastic blog  Real Housewife of the Bluegrass which you need to RSS subscribe to instantly –

“I love being a wife and a mother. I self-identify as a hausfrau, but I know I’m much more. I live (not love: LIVE) to read, watch classic movies, read some more, spend time with family and friends, travel, read, go to Disney World, and then read. Life is good in the Bluegrass.”

And life is good ON the Real Housewife of the Bluegrass’ Blog!

Cheers to K.C. and her generosity and support of this Mom Blogger.  Now, please support K.C.’s writing too.