Borderlands and Enchantments: A Writer’s View

Robert DurborowRobert Durborow
Student Advisor, 2014-2016
Pi Omega Chapter
Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights, KY

“Borderlands and Enchantments” are perfect themes for me as a writer. I would go so far as to say the theme of our upcoming Sigma Tau Delta Convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico, embodies what writing is all about, at least in my opinion. I think of borders as boundaries to the next place along my path as a writer, and I push my personal borders on a regular basis. I might add I do so with the specific aim of enchanting my readers; that is, to keep them reading.

Petroglyph National Monument Credit: Verna Wood

Petroglyph National Monument Credit: Verna Wood

You might think I refer only to creative writing. You would be mistaken. Writing is all about the enchantment of the story, the words we writers lay out along our borders to tell the tale or make our point. That’s true if we’re trying to instruct or entertain. It’s all about getting the message across to the reader in an engaging way. Again, my opinion, but you can see my point, yes?

Like a Diné (Navajo word for “The People”) storyteller, we writers seek to enchant and/or educate our audience. We begin within familiar borders and enchantments that are easy to recognize and believe, such as the sun rises or the Dursleys were perfectly ordinary (thank you very much). I like to get myself firmly entrenched inside such mundane borders…then release my literary hounds.

I’ve found one effective way to expand my borders is to let all Hell break loose. Let’s face it, it’s outside those well-known borders we find the wily trickster, discover Harry is a wizard, or understand why E=mc2. In short, that’s where the fun is. Tell me you weren’t shocked when Snape killed Dumbledore or awed the first time you saw a homerun (E=mc2). See what I mean? Fun!

Rio Grande Credit: MarbleStreetStudio.com

Rio Grande Credit: MarbleStreetStudio.com

I do a lot of different writing at this point: creative, technical, critical, etc. My borderlands may consist of scientific data, rules of magic, poetic verse, Derrida’s view on this and that, or the history of a society; it doesn’t really matter. What I learn about the world, my limits, and myself adds up to enchantment every single time. The extent of that enchantment is limited only to how well I understand my borderlands and how far I am willing to push those ever-expanding boundaries. I just hope my readers are half as enchanted as I am.

I’m not the greatest writer…but I’m also not the worst. Let’s just say I don’t suck at writing as badly as I did a few years ago and call it a day. I do have some advice, though, as we approach this year’s convention. As you discover your own borderlands and write your way into new ones, enjoy the journey, savor the enchantment, and every now and again…give it a nudge. Step across your established borderlands and see what new enchantments await. Do that, and the story will never truly end.

Student in the Boardroom: Making Your Mark as a Sigma Tau Delta Student Advisor

Katherine WilliamsKatherine Williams
Senior Student Advisor
Omicron Tau Chapter
Arkansas Tech University, Russellville, AR

For the past two years, I have had the opportunity to work with the movers and shakers of Sigma Tau Delta. You may have seen them at various events of the convention, giving speeches, telling jokes, and welcoming students and alumni to a weekend of fun and learning. Many of these wonderful individuals work behind the scenes in the months leading up to the convention, and many of whom include the Student Representatives (SRs) and the Associate Student Representatives (ASRs). As a Student Advisor (SA), it is my job to make myself available to the Student Leaders, who in turn work hard to promote activities within the six national regions.

2014 Sigma Tau Delta Fall Board Meeting

Sigma Tau Delta 2014 Fall Board Meeting

The main duty of the Student Advisor as a member of the Board of Directors is to represent the student voice. This means that the two SAs attend board meetings and several committees on various aspects of Sigma Tau Delta, including the Student Leadership Committee. According to the Sigma Tau Delta website, “SAs must be full-time student members of active chapters and must be willing advocates for the needs and concerns of the student members of Sigma Tau Delta. The two SAs work together promoting the goals of the Society among its members.”

Each spring during the international convention, the Board of Directors appoints a new Student Advisor, who serves a two-year term. This ensures that, as a senior SA concludes his/her term, there is a rising junior SA to show the new leader the ropes. I found this to be very helpful when I started my position, as I was trained during my first year by the senior SA, Kelsey. Her knowledge of the organization and work ethic helped shape my own vision of my position.

What I learned in the two years of working as Student Advisor is that an enormous amount of work for the organization, including the convention, takes place throughout the year. Since many Board members and student leaders live across the country, most communication takes place through email correspondence and monthly online chats. It can be difficult at times to get everyone on the same page on projects and deadlines when we communicate virtually, but the fall Board meeting helps all the student leaders to get to know each other in person and set goals for the months leading to convention. The SAs work around the clock virtually and in person with SRs, ASRs, and the Central Office, which is both exhausting and rewarding.

With Some of Our SRs in Albuquerque, NM

Viewing the City of Albuquerque Following the 2014 Fall Board Meeting

If this sounds like the job for you, act fast! Unlike the Student Representative (SR) and Associate Student Representative (ASR) positions, Student Advisor hopefuls must go through a rigorous application process, about which you can find more information here. The application deadline is Monday, February 9, 2015. Although it is by no means an easy position, I’ve learned and grown as a leader and a person through the years; the travel opportunities and personal connections I’ve made with hard-working lovers of language and literature will help me in the future in the working world.

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Interning at Penguin: Life of a Book Nerd

Megan WilliamsMegan Williams
Rho Epsilon Chapter
Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL

It’s hard to believe sometimes our alphabet only has 26 letters. These 26 letters create anything and everything the mind can imagine. From this blog post to classics like A Tale of Two Cities, even childhood favorites like The Giving Tree. This is one of the many reasons I fell in love with the English language, and like many of us wanted to pursue it during college and after. For some, people told you how crazy or useless this major would be. You pay thousands of dollars for a college education and simply learn about your native langue. However, English is much more involved than others realize.

I lucked out though. I’ve always been a complete book nerd since I was little; dressing up as Amelia Bedelia instead of the Power Puff Girls or a Disney princess for my 3rd grade Halloween party. I have been able to turn my passion for stories into something more during my time at Penguin Random House as Razorbill’s intern; razorbill, as in the imprint responsible for titles like Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why or Richelle Meads Vampire Academy series.

mwilliamsblog2As an intern I am constantly learning and reading something new and exciting. Going into this internship I figured I would simply sit at my desk reading books all day. Although, I quickly learned this internship would be much more hands on. While I do spend a majority of my time reading books or manuscripts—which are under consideration to being acquired—I also get to learn about the industry. I never would have guessed until this summer the books we see on the shelves at Barnes and Noble took months and months to find a home there. The new release novels, while new to the public, have been a year and a half in the making. From acquiring the book to line-edits and cover design it really takes an army to create just one of the novels we find ourselves reading.

When I first started in June, everyone around me was working towards and preparing for something the industry calls Launch. Not knowing what this was I quickly became enticed by the process. A complete year in advanced editors from every imprint must defend and sell their upcoming titles to the entire sales team for its division. Such a daunting and stressful task is not something I ever expected in editors to partake in. However, I am quickly learning there is a whole other side the publishing industry offers besides what I learned in my classes at school.

But the best part about this internship is I’m not limited to only interacting with one department. Each week Penguin sets up lunches and talks for interns. This way we get personal stories, advice, make connections with others who started out right where we once were.

New York itself can be the strangest and greatest city all at once. Not many places you will find a man in an expensive suit on the subway next to a Brooklyn hipster; a mom and her kids sitting on one bench, and a homeless man sleeping across from them on the other. I think it is this diversity which makes the city such a creative hub. It gives off this enticing, drug inducing vibe. Making its inhabitants believe anything and everything is possible with some hard work and a lot of luck. This constant go environment seems to make Manhattan keep spinning.

It truly is the city that never sleeps. Thankfully for me the publishing industry takes full advantage of “summer Fridays.” For an intern like me this means I don’t have to work on Fridays, getting a full three day weekend to explore. Even though Manhattan is a small island with a large population, there are still so many beautiful places and spaces to explore.

mwilliamsblog1By far the most appealing view I have found belongs to The Met. After careening through all the museum has to offer, visitors are treated to a breathtaking view of the city atop the building in their rooftop garden. The foliage around the city is a fresh, bright green. Onlookers can see the skyscrapers lining the clear blue sky for miles on end. It’s the perfect 360 view of the city, putting you at eye level with the central park tress.

When you are walking through the city it seems like such a large and intimidating place, but I can’ help but remember the very first view I had of the city at a time like that; flying in on the plane from Florida. The pilot circled over the Brooklyn Bridge and around the Statue of Liberty. When you see the city as something so small, you realize it is not such an intimidating place.

The Penguin Group (USA) ten-week paid summer internship is offered to current undergraduate Sigma Tau Delta members. The internship takes place in New York, NY, with exact dates to be determined by agreement between the recipient and Penguin Group (USA). The recipient will work 28 hours per week, earning minimum wager. Sigma Tau Delta will provide the recipient an additional $1,500 stipend to assist with travel and housing expenses. Submissions will be accepted through Monday, January 26.

View: Position Description and Application Instructions