Tag Archives: magazine writing

The Value of a Liberal Arts Education

magazine coverIn the latest Mount Mary Magazine, the alumnae magazine for Mount Mary University in Milwaukee, I was asked to seek out research about the value of a liberal arts education and showcase in a magazine feature article how this particular institution uniquely lives out the liberal arts aspect of its mission and truly prepares today’s students for an ever-changing world and job market.

From the Spring/Summer issue of the Mount Mary Magazine:

“The value of an education in the liberal arts college is not the learning of many facts, but the training of the mind to think.” –Albert Einstein

Parents visiting college campuses with their high school students ask “What job can my child get with this degree?” Politicians and pundits debate the value (or perceived lack of value) of a well-rounded college education and suggest reforms to change the purpose of education from educating the thinkers of tomorrow to preparing students for specific jobs. And for many, there’s a perception that a liberal arts education is a luxury, not something available to students of all socio-economic levels.magazine spread

As the value of the liberal arts is increasingly questioned and debated, it is good to revisit Einstein’s words and to remind ourselves of the purpose and value of the liberal arts.

So what is the value of a liberal arts education in today’s world?

Read the rest of the story here.


 

About Dana’s Creative Services

Dana’s Creative Services is a writing and editing services company that helps businesses communicate better with their target audiences. Dana McCullough, owner of Dana’s Creative Services, writes and edits copy for brochures, newsletters, websites, blogs, magazines, and books. She frequently writes and edits copy on higher education and genealogy/family history topics. She is the author of the Unofficial Guide to FamilySearch.org. Twitter: @DanasCreative

 

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Best Blogs for Freelance Writing Newbies

Freelance BlogsWhen I first started freelancing I turned to blogs of men and women who had “been there, done that” to get advice on starting my freelance business. Today, I continue to read many of these blogs to stay inspired and to be up-to-date on the conversations others in my field are having.

If you’re a newbie freelancer, here are a few blogs I have found useful and you may, too:

1. Make a Living Writing. This blog by Carol Tice was a great help when I was first starting out, especially her posts about setting freelance rates, what different markets pay, and transitioning to a career as a full-time freelancer.

2. The Renegade Writer. When I was a summer editorial intern at Family Circle magazine, I remember fact-checking articles written by Linda Formichelli. I enjoyed her articles, and afterward I started seeing her byline in tons of places. I wanted to write for magazines like she did. When I was considering quitting my day job and becoming a full-time freelancer, I read Linda’s books The Renegade Writer and Query Letters That Rock (both co-written with Diana Burrell). I started reading Linda’s blog, too, which has even more practical advice for freelance newbies.

3. The Well-Fed Writer. Peter Bowerman’s The Well-Fed Writer was another book I read before getting the courage to make the leap to full-time freelancing. The book is kind of a no-nonsense guide of how to land copywriting work, and the freelance rate information in here was yet another super-helpful resource in helping me to determine my freelance rates. His blog has equally great advice.

4. MediaBistro. This site has lots of blogs, based on your interests in the media world, but what I found even more helpful than the blogs here were the site’s How to Pitch articles for tips on pitching story ideas to different magazines. It helped me land an article assignment from a magazine I hadn’t written for before. In my opinion, the MediaBistro subscription fee is well worth it.


About Dana’s Creative Services

Dana’s Creative Services is a writing and editing services company that helps businesses communicate better with their target audiences. Dana McCullough, owner of Dana’s Creative Services, writes and edits copy for brochures, newsletters, websites, blogs, magazines, and books. Her clients include universities, nonprofit organizations, magazine publishers, and book publishers nationwide. Dana has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and frequently writes and edits copy on higher education, genealogy/family history, health, and business topics.

Photo Coaster Family History Craft Project

Family Photo CoastersWhile writing an article on family history craft projects for Family Tree Magazine, I came across several awesome examples of how to create tile photo coasters to display family photos. After being inspired by The Frugal Girls and Oopsey Daisey blog posts, I decided to create my own set of photo tile coasters—and they turned out great, if I do say so myself.

With my cousin’s wedding coming up, I used old family wedding photos on the coasters to create a unique, personalized wedding gift.

Below is a step-by-step guide to how I created these photo tile coasters, but to get started, here’s a list of the supplies I used:

Family History Photo Coasters

Project supplies

  • photo paper
  • a paper cutter
  • 4×4 white tiles (obtained from the home improvement store)
  • a foam brush
  • Mod Podge
  • adhesive felt circles
  • a skinny felt-tip pen
  • a clear, glossy sealer

Step 1. Gather and edit photos. I knew my aunt, who is interested in genealogy, had several old family photos. I asked her for copies, and she scanned them using her Flip-Pal mobile scanner to create digital files. I took the digital files she provided and used Adobe Photoshop to convert them to grayscale (black-and-white) images. I also adjusted the levels and contrast, so the images wouldn’t print too dark.

Step 2. Print and cut the photos. Once I had edited the photos, I used a desktop publishing program (I used Adobe InDesign, but you could also use Microsoft Publisher), to place the pictures in 4×4-inch boxes. I then adjusted the image to center it in the frame.

Next, I printed the images on photo paper using my home printer. Finally, I used my scrapbooking paper cutter to cut out the images.

Family Photo Coasters

Apply Mod Podge before and after placing the photo on the tile.

Step 3. Apply photo to the tile. Before applying a photo to the tile, I set the photo on the tile to ensure it was the right size and to see how it lined up. If it was a little large, I trimmed the photo with scissors. I then wrote the name of the wedding couple along the bottom of the tile, and allowed the ink to dry.

Next, I used a foam brush to coat the tile with Mod Podge, and then pressed the photo on the tile. After allowing this to dry thoroughly, I put three coats of Mod Podge on the top, allowing each coat to dry thoroughly before applying the next.

Family Photo Coaster

Sealer to use on top of the photo

Step 4. Apply sealing coat. To ensure the photo would be sealed and water-resistant when drinks are set on it, I used a water-based sealer I already had on hand from a different project: Minwax’s Polycrylic clear gloss, water-based protective finish.

I applied three layers of this sealer, allowing each layer to dry thoroughly before applying the next. (Note: Other bloggers have used other materials like a clear acrylic spray or resin to seal their photo coaster projects.)

Family History Craft Project

Close-up of final photo coaster project

Step 5: Adhere felt backing. To create a soft surface on the back of the tiles that won’t scratch a coffee table, I adhered four adhesive felt circles to the back of each tile. I placed the felt circles in each corner of the tile.

For more family history craft and holiday gift ideas, check out Family Tree Magazine.


About Dana’s Creative Services

Dana’s Creative Services is a writing and editing services company that helps businesses communicate better with their target audiences. Dana McCullough, owner of Dana’s Creative Services, writes and edits copy for brochures, newsletters, websites, blogs, magazines, and books. Her clients include universities, nonprofit organizations, magazine publishers, and book publishers nationwide. Dana has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and frequently writes and edits copy on higher education, genealogy/family history, health, and business topics.

Amazing Faculty Work and Personal Stories Create Impactful University Magazine Articles

Higher Education CommunicationsWhen I was asked to write a couple of articles for the summer edition of Mount Mary Magazine, the magazine issue theme intrigued me: raising women’s voices. For the articles, I had the opportunity to speak with several Mount Mary University faculty about the work they and their students do to help give women a voice and to strengthen women’s voices in the community and the world.

What I found were amazing faculty! The faculty members had very personal stories that impacted the professional work they do, and the women that they teach.

  • Dr. Kristen Roche, the MBA program director, witnessed early in her business career how gender may impact job titles given to employees with the same experience. She now is passionate about helping students learn to negotiate in the workplace for better pay, benefits, and jobs.
  • Rachel Monaco-Wilcox, chair of the justice program, became a lawyer after being frustrated about the lack of help available for certain populations. Recently, she founded a free legal clinic, Legal Options for Trafficked and Underserved Survivors (LOTUS), to help human trafficking victims and other survivors of crime. She’s also revolutionizing justice education by focusing Mount Mary’s program on a survivor-informed perspective of justice.
  • Dr. Jennifer Peterson, assistant professor of communication, discovered how misconceptions about AIDS and HIV impacted women and their voices during a research project in grad school. As a professor today, she teaches her students, particularly students studying health communication, to find a cause they are passionate about, as well as to ensure all people’s voices are present in conversations about health topics.
  • Dr. Bruce Moon, chair of the Art Therapy Department, overcame his turbulent teenage years by engaging in art. He’s spent his career helping others cope with their feelings and life struggles through art therapy.
  • Dr. Lynn Kapitan, director of the Professional Doctorate in Art Therapy program, began her career as a public school art teacher and ultimately become an art therapist. She travels to Nicaragua each year for community-based art therapy research, which helps women survivors of domestic abuse participate in projects to develop their voices and leadership skills.

To read more about these amazing professors’ stories and work, see my articles on pages 3 through 9 of the Mount Mary Magazine Summer 2014 edition.


About Dana’s Creative Services

Dana’s Creative Services is a writing and editing services company that helps businesses communicate better with their target audiences. Dana McCullough, owner of Dana’s Creative Services, writes and edits copy for brochures, newsletters, websites, blogs, magazines, and books. Her clients include universities, nonprofit organizations, magazine publishers, and book publishers nationwide. Dana has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and frequently writes and edits copy on higher education, genealogy/family history, health, and business topics. Twitter: @DanasCreative

Genealogy: Tips for Planning a Family History Road Trip

Genealogy TravelI love to travel, and was excited when I had the opportunity to write an article on summer genealogy road trips for Family Tree Magazine’s July/August 2014 issue.

For the article, I interviewed staff at top destinations for genealogists around the country, including the Family History Library (FHL), the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) Library, Allen County Public Library (ACPL) Genealogy Center, and Ellis Island.

Here are a few things I learned from these professionals about making and planning for a genealogy road trip:

1. Every trip may be different. Especially at genealogy libraries, every trip you make there could be different. Libraries are constantly acquiring new materials and family histories, so even if you didn’t have much luck the last time you visited, something new and relevant to your family history research could have arrived the next year. So, it pays to check back with the library every once in a while.

2. Do your homework before you go. To take the best advantage of resources accessible on-site only, do some research before you go. Search the library’s online catalog so you know what books or microfilm you want to (and can) access. Browse or search any available online databases. Some repositories may store records in off-site storage facilities, so if there’s something specific you want to see, find out how you can request to access to those materials when you’re there (or before you go).

3. Call ahead. Historic sites, libraries, and archives may change their hours of operation (or may be under renovation, which causes access issues to certain records) due to holidays or during their busy or slow seasons. Call ahead to confirm the hours posted on their website are still correct. And while you’re calling, ask if any large groups are scheduled to be at the center during the dates you’re planning to visit. If so, you may want to consider shifting your trip dates to avoid the crowds and maximize your time there.

For more details and specific tips on visiting the FHL, NEHGS Library, ACPL Genealogy Center, and Ellis Island (such as collections you can access, how to get there, and other genealogy and history sites to visit while you’re there), see my article in the Family Tree Magazine July/August 2014 issue.

Also, check out the Family Tree Magazine May 2014 podcast (starting at 7:30) to listen to an interview I gave about this article and genealogy road trip tips.


About Dana’s Creative Services

Dana’s Creative Services is a writing and editing services company that helps businesses communicate better with their target audiences. Dana McCullough, owner of Dana’s Creative Services, writes and edits copy for brochures, newsletters, websites, blogs, magazines, and books. Her clients include universities, nonprofit organizations, magazine publishers, and book publishers nationwide. Dana has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and frequently writes and edits copy on higher education, genealogy/family history, health, and business topics.

 

Web Browser Plug-ins to Help Protect Your Privacy Online

Magazine Writing SampleDid you know that hundreds of advertising, marketing, and other companies may be tracking your every online move? These can be beneficial when advertisers show you ads customized specifically to you, but it can be creepy, too.

While researching information for an online privacy web course and quick guide for Family Tree Magazine, I came across several resources that can help show you who’s tracking you, as well as tools to block organizations from tracking your online movements. I was surprised to find that 114 companies were tracking my online surfing, and began using one of the tools I learned about to block some of the trackers.

Check out my “Web Browser Plug-ins for Privacy” quick guide in Family Tree Magazine‘s January/February 2014 issue for information on several tools to help you retain some of your online surfing privacy.

 

 

 

Digital School Yearbooks for Genealogists

Magazine Writing SampleWhen researching family history, many of us are aware of the essential records to check—censuses; birth, marriage and death records; and immigration and naturalization records, to name a few. But have you ever thought about looking close to your ancestors’ home, in his or her school yearbook?

Many websites now have digital versions of middle school, high school, and college yearbooks available from the 1700s through the 1900s. Some websites offer free access, while others charge a fee. In fact, some free websites may have the same yearbooks as the subscription sites, so be sure to check the free sites first.

Learn more about yearbooks available online in my new quick guide to digital yearbooks in Family Tree Magazine‘s October/November 2013 issue. If you can’t find a yearbook for a school you’re looking for on the websites listed in the article, check the school’s library or archives website, as several schools (particularly colleges and universities) may have digitized yearbook collections available for free on their own websites.

Emerging Trends in Online Higher Education

Wisconsin Woman magazine articleIn the last decade the number of schools offering fully online degree programs has doubled. But traditional online degree programs aren’t the only educational offerings on the internet—there’s also massive open online courses (MOOCs), online certificate programs, and competency-based online programs.

For the October 2013 Wisconsin Woman magazine, I interviewed students and administrators from various University of Wisconsin (UW) schools and programs to learn about all of these different types of programs and trends in online education.

In the process, David Schejbal, dean of the UW-Extension’s continuing education division, told me I was the first writer to know the date when students can begin applying for the UW-Extension’s new competency-based online degree program: November 18.

Check out the October 2013 Wisconsin Woman magazine (pages 7-9) for my article on emerging trends in online college education.