Archive for the ‘High School Hijinx’ Category

The Wren’s Nest Publishing Co. Visits Paste Magazine — This Time, in 2010!

Written on June 28, 2010 at 2:10 pm, by Amelia

The good folks at Paste Magazine were kind enough to host the Wren’s Nest Publishing Co. students on a tour of their offices once again.  You think they would learn.

As is his habit, Editor-in-Chief Josh Jackson graciously showed us around, which was great.   The students, as is their habit, kept a healthy distance.  A good call, since Josh is absolutely the meanest person I know.*


We stopped in the offices of MetaLeap Design, who do all the graphic design for Paste, but also for other people, too.  They’re nice like that.

Here are the students with their futures (fingers crossed!) ahead of them: the interns!  Doesn’t it look glamorous?!

Our editors had a lot of questions for Paste’s Editors, all of which they graciously answered.  This is probably when Associate Editor Rachael said that interviewing people made her want to die.

A different view, this time including Editors Austin and Michael.

Paste, go figure, receives a lot of CDs.  Many of them end up here, and some are even on shelves!

They even listen to them sometimes!

Paste Multimedia Producer Kevin told the students about the time he met some dudes who were cleaning up trash at a music festival.  They handed him their demo CD.   Kevin had previously vowed to listen to every CD he was handed by a human, and so he listened.

The result?  The world now knows about The Low Anthem!  (P.S.  Every time Kevin tells that story, he’s handed many CDs.  And he still listens to every one.  What a mensch!)

Everyone who performs at Paste signs this wall.  It’s neat.

Here’s Rachael enjoying a token of our appreciation, courtesy of The Cookie Studio.  Yes, they are that big, and yes, they are that good.

Thanks again to the staff of Paste for sacrificing their time for the sake of our students’ bragging rights.  See y’all next summer!

Wren’s Nest Publishing Co. Entering its Fourth Lap!

Written on March 17, 2010 at 10:16 am, by Amelia

Since 2007, we’ve been lucky enough to work with incredible student editors to create three exceptional literary journals.  So we decided to stop while we were ahead.


Nope, we’re entering our fourth year with the Wren’s Nest Publishing Co. and couldn’t be more excited.  Sure, we’ve been harping about our new KIPP STRIVE program, but behind the scenes, WNPCo. is on and poppin’.

We’ve sent informational packets to all of the English Department heads of every high school we could think of in Fulton and Dekalb counties and have already heard back from several students interested in Editor positions.  It’s working!

“What do you mean, Editor positions?” you ask.  You crazy ignoramus!  Looks like it’s time for me to break down the whole program.

  • –> Throughout the summer we work with a team of 8-10 student editors, all Atlanta-area high school students, who do all the work for us while we take the credit.  Just kidding!  Kind of!  The students really do make all editorial decisions, including which pieces to include, how to format the text, the name of the publication, choosing the cover, etc.  They also learn how to market the journal, and are responsible for soliciting all of the submissions.
  • –> The submissions are all from Atlanta-area high school students.  They include short stories, essays, poetry, and artwork — and they’ve been darn good, if I do say so.
  • –> The journal is created with and for the Decatur Book Festival, the country’s largest independent book festival.  The journal debuts there on Labor Day weekend and the Editors organize a literary salon to celebrate the journal and its contributors.
  • –> Because of our ties to the good people at the DBF, we’ve also been able to do great things like tour the AJCtour Paste Magazine’s offices (the students’ favorite trip each year), and have writers, authors, marketing professionals and other experts in the publishing world talk to the group throughout the summer.  Which is important, because Lain and I don’t know what we’re doing.

(Our 2009 Editors deciding which of Paste’s awards to steal.)

Lots and lots of information about the program can be found here, including the Editor application due date (*cough* May 9th) and the submission deadline (*double cough* July 5th).

I suggest taking a gander and then telling every teacher, parent, and overachieving teenager you know about the program.  We can only get the word out so far, which is where you come in!

Also, you know what’s fun to do?  Our bidding!  Thank you very much!

Wren’s Nest Publishing Company Visits the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Written on June 25, 2009 at 7:01 am, by Amelia

On Tuesday the Wren’s Nest Publishing Co. and I (henceforth: “the gang”) visited the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for a tour and an InDesign tutorial.

The Wren's Nest Publishing Company at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

We were lucky enough to meet all sorts of important people.  Our tour guide was one such important person — Daily Lifestyle Reporter and all-around champion, Jamie Gumbrecht.  She’s peeking out below on the left.

Jamie Gumbrecht and the Wren's Nest Publishing Company

While I do not have any more pictures, I can and will regale you with a few stories.  Ready?  I hope so.

Asking the Tough Questions

Jamie and the gang walked in on a meeting between Julia Wallace, Editor-in-Chief, and James Mallory, Senior Managing Editor.  Mallory introduced himself by saying (in essence), “This woman is in charge and currently stomping all over my suggestions.”

Wallace asked the gang if they had any questions.  Here’s how it went:

WREN’S NEST EDITOR: So, what do you think of the AJC redesign?

AJC EDITOR: What do you think about it?

WREN’S NEST EDITOR: It reminds me of USA Today.

AJC EDITOR: Is that a good thing?

WREN’S NEST EDITOR: (pregnant pause) No.

It’s a tad surreal to see the Editor of one of the most respected newspapers in the country defending her decisions to a high school junior.  Apparently the AJC editors should consult the Wren’s Nest Publishing Company editors before moving forward with anything else.

Auspicious Encounters

We settled in to learn all about InDesign from the lovely Melissa Angle, Senior Designer, who was nothing short of amazing.  I know this because even I could follow what she was demonstrating.  That, my friends, is saying something.  She was kind, generous (instructional packets!), funny, and patient.

On our way out we caught Pulitzer Prize winner Mike Luckovich in the midst of satirizing Jon and Kate, pen in hand and everything.  Half-finished illustrations are tops!

Mike Luckovich on the Jon and Kate Separation

Here’s the finished product.

Finally, Managing Editor Bert Roughton asked the gang if they had read any good submissions yet.  One answered, “No.  The one I read was REALLY bad.”  I think he offered her a job on the spot.

Thank You

Can I just take a moment to appreciate the generosity of the (very important) folks who took time to hang out?  Good golly.  Melissa and Jamie, y’all have a box of cookies coming your way.  The rest of you can mooch off of them.

Thank you all again!

Behavior Problems

Unfortunately, our hosts at the AJC weren’t the only jaw-dropping element of our time there.

I know that my concept of manners and good social graces are different than those of a 16-year-old, and I have to judge appropriately.  On the other hand, would you walk into the AJC while eating french fries?  Would you think nothing of arriving 20 minutes late?  Of picking at your nails while the Editor-in-Chief spoke to you?  Sadly, I could go on.

I have no question that each and every one of our editors knows how to behave themselves when it’s called for.  So why didn’t they think this was one of those times?  It makes me uneasy about cashing in all of our favors for a gang that will appear not only disinterested, but ungrateful.

Sticky as Brer Rabbit Molasses, this situation.  Any advice, other than prolonged yelling and/or foot stomping?

The Decatur Book Festival: Our Shortcomings and Our Triumphs

Written on August 28, 2008 at 1:27 pm, by Amelia

As you all hopefully know, the Decatur Book Festival is this weekend.  First and foremost, yippee!

Decatur Book Festival 2008

Just as in the past two years, the Wren’s Nest will have a booth at the Festival, so you should totally drop by.  I believe we’ll be by Church St. on Ponce de Leon. Our booth will be the white one.

Last year Lain drank beer while making Outdoorsman Matt do all the talking.

Lain drinking beer at the Decatur Book Festival

Things should be similar this year.

Also similar to last year: we will be selling the product of The Wren’s Nest Publishing Co.’s hard work.  This year it’s called Vernacular.

Vernacular Literary Journal Cover

(Note: This outstanding cover was done by a whippersnapper named Zach who totally needs work.  Interested?  Email him here:

To review, Vernacular:

  • is comprised totally of artwork and written pieces by Atlanta-area teenagers
  • was edited fully by six teenagers who worked on the journal throughout the summer
  • is the only publication created by and for the Decatur Book Festival
  • sells for $5, and 100% of proceeds go to ensuring we can do the program in 2009
  • is totally awesome, and buying it counts as your good deed for the day

So far so good, right?  We’ve got a booth on a street everyone can find, our literary magazine came together beautifully, and you’re coming by to say hello and buy things.  What could be better?

Well, it would be nice if we had books to sell at the book festival.

Due to our immense and overwhelming popularity (and some guy named Joel Chandler Harris), we’ve been having a lot of trouble keeping some of our most popular books in stock.  It seems like we’re ordering them every few days, yet we’re constantly running out.

The worst culprit is this guy:

The Classic Tales of Brer Rabbit

(This may literally be the last copy we have.)

We’ve currently got about a million copies back-ordered, but we’re not sure if they’ll make it in time for the festival.  Cross your fingers for us!

Wren’s Nest Publishing Co. Visits the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Written on July 2, 2008 at 11:14 am, by Amelia

Welp, the title pretty much says it all.

Editors of Vernacular visit the AJC

Let’s do it this way:

  • Who: five of our six student editors from the Wren’s Nest Publishing Co., hangers-on.
  • What: a tour of the AJC, followed by a brief tutorial in inDesign.

Nancy from the AJC

(Nancy, our lovely tour guide.)

  • Where: the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, dummy.
  • When: why, just yesterday.
  • Why: um, because field trips are awesome, obviously.
  • How: We’ve got connections you wouldn’t believe.  Actually, you probably would.  Tom did it.

So all in all, a great day for our little program.

Though we have set a new goal for the Editors as result of our adventures: when asked things like “Where are you all from?”, ideal answers include things like “The Wren’s Nest Publishing Co.” or “A publishing program that’s a partnership between the Decatur Book Festival and The Wren’s Nest House Museum”.

Yesterday’s choice, looking at feet, was only okay.

Reminder: know any writers or artists between the ages of 12 and 18?

Get them to submit their work to before July 20th!  Man alive, they could be published by summer’s end!

The Wren’s Nest Publishing Co. Visits Paste

Written on June 23, 2008 at 11:46 am, by Amelia

Did we mention that the 2008 Wren’s Nest Publishing Co. has officially begun? Probably not, because it did so the day before Wren’s Nest Fest, which erased 40% of my brain.

But! We’re now in the swing of things, with 6 great student editors and three meetings under our collective belt, the most recent of which was a trip to Paste Magazine.

Wren's Nest Publishing Company Meets Paste Magazine

(Three of our Editors.)

How delightfully timed!

Josh Jackson, the Editor-in-Chief, was kind enough to show us around and answer everyone’s questions and generally be way more gracious than he needed to be.

Wren's Nest Publishing Company Meets Paste Magazine Editor Josh Jackson

We accidentally interrupted steadfast work in the Metaleap Design studio.

Metaleap Designers are Proficient at Foosball

Somehow they were able to regain their composure in order to attend to our highly impatient group. Harumph!

Jose Reyes, Design Director, spent a good chunk of time generally being awesome and giving a side-by-side comparison of the magazine’s relatively new layout versus the old.

Wren's Nest Publishing Company Meets Paste Magazine Designer Jose Reyes from Metaleap

It was super neat to go from being like, “I swear, Paste looks different this month!” to learning the specific objectives achieved by the change and why they were chosen.

In short, it was a great trip to a great magazine with a great and kind staff. As usual, we felt lucky to be people who know people.

So thanks to everyone at Paste for guaranteeing the Editors have at least one good thing to say about the program.

(More posts about the Wren’s Nest Publishing Co. (both 2008 and 2007) here, here, here, and here. And here.)

Chris Brown is Accidentally Making The Wren’s Nest Popular

Written on May 29, 2008 at 8:06 am, by Amelia

Because Lain is a nerd / Executive Director of a non-profit, he tracks how many people visit our website, read the blog, etc. It’s a good way for us to see if our primary (only?) marketing effort is working, plus he’s a major fan of things like charts. Again, nerd.

The other day he noticed that we had a HUGE traffic increase. The same thing happened the next day. What gives, we asked?

The answer is: Chris Brown, heartthrob and enormous R&B star.

Chris Brown, heartthrob
(If only we had known to whom to give photo credit. Great work, anonymous!)

You see, a while back we wrote about how much preteen girls love Chris Brown (OMG a lot!!!!) and included the above picture to illustrate how totally hot he is.

Then, sometime last week Google Images changed their algorithms or logrollings or something and, somehow, we became the first result when you search for “Chris Brown”. Seriously, try it.

Hilarious, right?

Even better is the fact that all of the people (read: teenage girls) searching for “Chris Brown” see the following picture when they’re seeking out their man:

Lain and Amelia in front of the Full House House

Now, I know that some people prefer the awkward scene above to Chris Brown, but I can’t imagine there’s a ton of overlap between our fans.

… or is there?

Hi new Wren’s Nest blog/Chris Brown fans! Have you heard our theme song? I think it’s right up your alley.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Maybe Mr. Brown will take our present collaboration to heart and record an R&B version of our theme song. I smell Top 40!

May Day at the Wren’s Nest and Photo Gallery

Written on May 1, 2008 at 12:13 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

Well, it looks like the Wren’s Nest is bringing back the May Day Festival. I know this because I read it in this morning’s paper.

After 25 Years, a May Day Revival

Also, because we’re helping organize it. Durr.

If you read the article, you’ll note that there was a May Day celebration here at the Wren’s Nest for over 70 years.

Our amphitheater was built in the 1920s for the celebration, and the walkway that leads up to it commemorates each May Queen from 1909 – 1983.

The Wren's Nest Amphitheatre Set Up for a Wedding

It was a very formal affair, and quite a big deal to the organizations in charge of the Wren’s Nest before our current non-profit board took over in 1984.

In fact, the May Day festival ended up eclipsing Joel Chandler Harris and the Brer Rabbit stories in terms of organizational priorities. From what I can gather, it was done under the guise of “what Joel Chandler Harris would have wanted.” I think it was more “what they wanted,” but oh well.

The same sort of excuse was used to justify segregation of the Wren’s Nest, and as we now know, that claim was absolutely false.

That said, the May Day festival was a pretty neat tradition. There would be a parade down Gordon Street (now R.D.A.), and it would culminate in our back yard.

We’ve got a scrapbook of pictures from each year, and I’ve included one from each decade below. Have fun!

May Day Flower Festival at the Wren's Nest - 1909 Mary Colcord

Mary Colcord was the first May Queen of the Flower Festival. Here she is in 1909.

May Day Flower Festival at the Wren's Nest - 1915 Christine McEachern

Before Ludacris, I suppose this is how you dropped dem bows in Atlanta. Look at the size of those things!

Christine McEachern was the May Queen in 1915. She’s surrounded by: (standing, left to right) Mary Gresham, Julia Greene, Louise Nichols, Evelyn Jordan, Maude Foster, Dorothy Brogdon, and (seated) Kathryn Stoy and Margaret White.

May Day Flower Festival at the Wren's Nest - 1927 Elizabeth Camp

Elizabeth Camp in 1927.

She’s surrounded by (standing, left to right) Sara Harrison, Madeline Wrigley, Beatrice Robinson, and Sara McCormack. Then, seated: Jane Spink, Charlotte Richards, Virginia Dillon, and Celeste Houston.

May Day Flower Festival at the Wren's Nest - 1932 Betty O'Kelly

Betty O’Kelly was the May Queen in 1932.

Apparently you had to be escorted to the stage by a boy your same age who handed you the “Queen’s Scepter.” I met the guy who did the escorting in 1944, and he said that his lines were, “O Queen! Here is thy scepter!” because the year before the kid said, “Hey lady, here’s ya’ stick.”

May Day Flower Festival at the Wren's Nest - 1948 Flower Festival

Probably 1948. These girls look like Rockettes in training or something. As you can see here–this was a pretty big deal, apparently.

May Day Flower Festival at the Wren's Nest - 1949 Jane Brooke

Jane Brooke was Queen in 1949. I like the color of the flowers.

May Day Flower Festival at the Wren's Nest - 1958 Judy Carlson

Some of the ones taken in the 50s and beyond were clearly not taken at the Wren’s Nest. This one is Judy Carlsen from 1958.

May Day Flower Festival at the Wren's Nest - 1958 Judy Carlson's Commemorative Stone

Here’s Judy’s stone. All of them look like this with a couple changes in size and font, and each is in a different state of repair.

May Day Flower Festival at the Wren's Nest - 1963 Kathy Wright

Here’s Kathryn LaRose Wright from 1963.

She’s with John Hunsinger, Paul Jenson, Missy Wright, Kitty Gundt, John Chapman, and Julie Hinton.

May Day Flower Festival at the Wren's Nest - 1975 Eugenia Marie Conway

Eugenia Marie Conway from 1975. Flower children meet the Flower Festival.

May Day Flower Festival at the Wren's Nest - 1983 Margaret Lyn Rhodes

Not the best picture quality, but Margaret Lynd Rhodes was the final May Queen, in 1983.

Ding! Publishing Round Two

Written on February 20, 2008 at 11:56 am, by Amelia

You may recall the awesomeness that was last year’s Wren’s Nest Publishing Co., our summer publishing workshop/camp for high school students. If you’re someone we like, you also probably own a copy of the fruits of our labors, Soy Nut Butter: Nutritious, Delicious, Fictitious. Good work on that.

Front Cover of Soy Nut Butter

However, we realize that some (many) of you probably missed out, judging from the copious copies of Soy Nut Butter we’ve retained. (Note: it’s easy to remedy that!)

Maybe you just didn’t get your hands on a copy or missed our literary salon at the Decatur Book Festival. But maybe, just maybe, you are a driven high school student who wants nothing more than to devote your summer to creating, editing, and contributing to a literary magazine.

Buddy, have we got an offer for you. We’re going for Round Two!

Cat Explains Soy Nut Butter

(Three of last year’s editors, hawking their wares at the book festival.)

While this year’s ball has just begun rolling, it’s rolling big time. Packets with info and a copy of SNB have been sent to EVERY high school English department head in the Atlanta area. Some of them were even lucky enough to receive a note from Lain and me, asking them to pester their SNB-alum students for details.

But they’re not the only ones who should be pestering! There’s plenty of opportunity for everyone, whether you’re a parent who wants to dump your teenager on us during the summer, a student who thinks your teacher should have definitely mentioned this opportunity by now, or a professional in the area who wants to teach these punks a thing or two about how it’s really done.

Jamie Allen, Professional and Impatient Person

(With an eye on the clock, apparently.)

For students, all the info you need is right here. There you can find applications to be an all-powerful editor or a contributor. Adults, if you have something to offer (and boy, I hope you do), just let us know through email, comments, etc. We’re pretty easy to reach.

Game on!

Taking our show on the road

Written on November 7, 2007 at 2:12 pm, by Amelia

People call Lain and I a lot of things: charming, good looking, dashing, hilarious, a “young punk” (Lain only), genius, humble, even “qualified”. But today we were called something so unprecedented, so exciting, so confusing– we were beside ourselves.

Folks, we were called PROFESSIONAL BLOGGERS. Egads!

Lain and Amelia in front of the Full House House

(Yep, these two totally non-awkward people.)

As part of a Writer’s Conference at Inman Middle School, today we spoke to an energetic eighth grade class about the merits of blogging. Once we got past Lain’s “cool” last name (they were finishing up MacBeth), we dove right into the exciting and money-filled world of professional blogging. Or, you know, what we do.

We mainly focused on what makes a blog different than other written sources, types of blogs, what makes a good blog, and why it’s totally hip to be a blogger. We’ll be repeating our shtick two more times this week.

The students all chose topics they were passionate about and wrote mini-blog posts, which they then edited with a partner and presented to the class. Topics included Colts v. Patriots, Homework v. No Homework, T.I. v. Lil Wayne, Randy Moss v. Va Tech, the attractiveness of Chris Brown, the musical stylings of Chris Brown, the dancing ability of Chris Brown, and Classic Rock v. Alternative Rock.

Chris Brown, heartthrob

(Professional eye-catcher and middle school girl favorite, Chris Brown.)

Lain and I somewhat arbitrarily chose our favorite blog, included below. Guest blogger Kiera Hicks wrote a treatise on the merits of recently incarcerated rapper T.I.

“I think T.I. is better than Lil Wayne because his lyrics talk about his life and what he has been through.

He doesn’t talk about a lot of sex, he is honest, he doesn’t smoke a lot, and he helps out his community and tries to make his life better.

Lil Wayne doesn’t have music for adolescents. Lil Wayne’s appearance to me is very unprofessional. I have never seen Lil Wayne wear anything other than a Bape Nape, pocket, white shirt, jeans, and shoes.

T.I. has a professional style of dressing. T.I. has his own style.”

T.I. looking dapper


Kiera, the moment you trade your love for T.I. for a love of turn of the century folk writers, give us a call.