Eva Mendes: Hey, Girl

March 13th, 2015

My other cover story this month was Eva Mendes for the April 2015 issue of Women’s Health. And the story has been garnering quite a lot of press because the actress/fashion designer/new mom is a believer in keeping her private life private.

Lucky for us, she did open a window into her amazing life, and we got to have a fun chat at the magazine photo shoot in Venice, CA!

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Grab a taste of the interview on the Women’s Health website: Women’s Health Cover Star Eva Mendes Isn’t Ready to Dole Out Motherly Advice—Yet. Or, check out the story in the April issue on stands now!

—Amy

Lauren Conrad’s Happiness Secrets

March 13th, 2015

This month, I had a sit-down with reality show star turned fashion and lifestyle maven, Lauren Conrad for the cover story in the April 2015 issue of Redbook magazine. We met at the offices of one of her fashion businesses in L.A., Paper Crown, and she was down to earth, super cool and really funny. Check out the full story “Lauren’t Un-Perfect Life” in the issue, on stands now. Or grab a little taste here at Redbook.com.

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Some of Lauren’s wise insights were picked up by other publications, and this tidbit about being more kind in the workplace was one of my favorites (here’s how Cosmopolitan wrote about it).

And now back to my regularly scheduled envy of her style.

—Amy

How I Got My Start in Magazines

March 12th, 2015

I remember watching an episode of House of Cards in Season Two, when they spoke of a “Deep Web” which most of us don’t know how to access through standard search engines. Well, now I believe the web goes deep. Because yesterday I was searching for something I had written, and I didn’t find that. But I stumbled upon this:

It’s a Q&A I did for a site called rockerchick.com. Apparently I did the interview in June 2001, and I was so honored to be asked to participate because rocker chicks tend to rule. This page isn’t just a throwback in style, it’s also a snapshot of who I was fourteen (fourteen!) years ago.

The page design? Olive green with mustard yellow type.

The font? Courier.

My favorite television shows at the time of the interview? Real World/Road Rules Challenge and Making the Band.

Sigh. Real “web history” rules. One of the predictions was wrong—how a friend of mine predicted I’d be running my own magazine at some point. But the prediction I made for myself was spot on. As I said back then, “I want to be able to look at a stack of pages and know that the words are all by me and for me. Kind of like the sous chef who opens her own restaurant — I want to be able to say ‘If it was all left up to me, this is what I’m capable of.'” As it turned out, I was able to create a few “stacks of pages” with my books, and having full control over what ended up on those pages has been more satisfying than I ever imagined.

The homepage of this site says it’s for sale, so to make sure this story lives on forever (as it must!) here is my interview. If that link no longer works, here it is printed below in full:

ROCKERCHICK OF THE MONTH 

6.01

NAME: 

Amy Spencer

WHAT SHE DOES:
Senior Editor, Features, Glamour magazine

Amy Spencer Rocker Chick

Here’s the original site. Click to see larger…if you dare.

WHY SHE ROCKS:

To quote friend and former co-worker, Stuff magazine’s Managing Editor Sky Shineman [and February Rockerchick], “I’d bet money that in three years Amy Spencer will be running her own magazine.”

HOW IT ALL STARTED:
“After college, I sent a few cliched ‘I love to write and I love your magazine’ letters to editors-in-chief. After the rejection letters came back, I asked someone I knew how to get into the business. She said ‘Either you work for free or you know somebody.’

“I couldn’t afford the former and I had no one to pull out of my hat for the latter, so I took a different approach. I called New Woman magazine [I was a diehard fan of it at the time] and asked them which recruiting company they used. Then I called the recruiting company and said I wanted a job at the magazine. She told me she didn’t fill editorial positions, only marketing and advertising ones. ‘You’d probably be much happier in one of those departments anyway,’ she said, ‘because editors just sit around at computers and type all day. It’s pretty boring.’

“I knew that getting my foot in the door was more important than arguing with her, so I told her I’d take the first opening. Three days later she got me a job as an advertising assistant.

“I assisted two salespeople, reserving them restaurant tables, tallying up their taxi receipts and shaking my head at the travesty that Schick razors chose to advertise with Self instead. My boss left after five months and hooked me up with the publisher of a new launch called Maxim magazine, a men’s import from England. They needed their own advertising assistant. I remember worrying that it was bold jump for me to go from a huge women’s magazine title to a no-name men’s magazine. [Four years later,Maxim would sell more copies than GQEsquire and Details combined each month; New Woman would fold.]

“During my interview, I told the publisher that I didn’t actually LIKE advertising, that I wanted to be an editor. He was so desperate for help, he said they could work something out. I basically arranged a 75% advertising, 25% writing gig at Maxim. I wrote my first story — on men’s colognes — my first week and by the end of the month was covering the entire men’s grooming market. At breakfast, the president of Calvin Klein cosmetics would be schmoozing me; by lunch I’d be disguising my voice as I took a message from her for my boss.

“At the end of the year I jumped over to the editorial side full time, as assistant to the editor in chief. She quit one week later. The new editor brought in his own assistant, so I was promoted by default.

“I spent the next three years writing and editing everything from how to spin a basketball on your finger to how to diffuse a fight with your girlfriend. Then my friend, an editor at Glamour, called and asked if I would write a feature for her.

“After handing it in, I got a call from the deputy editor saying she liked the story and wanted to meet with me. Apparently my Maxim sense of humor appealed to the editor-in-chief and they offered me a job as a senior editor at Glamour. I’ve spent the last year editing a few dozen ‘How to Make Him Love You in Five Minutes or Less’ features.”

WHY SHE CAN’T STOP:
“Because a few times a week, I write something that makes me laugh out loud as I type it. And I think to myself, “How cool is this that I get to write something that will make my friends laugh, and to know that 2.5 million other women are also going to read it? More than twice I’ve had the straight-out-of-a-movie moment after meeting a stranger when they say, ‘Oh, I just read this thing in Glamour about such and such,’ and I get to say back, ‘Wow, I wrote that!'”

WHEN THE JOB SUCKS:
“First, I’m writing for someone else. And second, when all my energy goes into something that gets tossed around a hair salon for a month, and then into the garbage with the split ends.”

WHEN THE JOB ROCKS:
“Well, I like to write. But more than writing, I like to finish writing. I like to read my final product and think, ‘Damn, girl, that’s good!?’

“And if I didn’t have to write five days a week, I wouldn’t. I’d be watching head-to-head episodes of the Golden Girls.

“So, being forced to produce creatively on a daily basis is the thing I love the most, it’s not only good for my soul, but it also wrings the best out of me. The more often I write, the better my chances of producing something halfway decent. It’s basic math.

“Also, while writing is a squeeze-the-clever-juice-from-your-brain gig, editing adds the project-planning and problem-solving element to the job, which I also get off on. One minute I’m assigning a story about ‘Surprisingly Important Sex Moments’ to a male writer, the next minute I’m calling publicists to arrange an interview with Jaime Pressly and Simon Rex, and the next I’m taking a writer out for sushi to plan her piece on road-testing pick-up tricks.”

WHY GLAMOUR?
“It’s what I do best. Some people like writing investigative pieces, tracking down bouncers who witnessed a fight at the Limelight; I enjoy the creativity at the keyboard, turning those nauseatingly familiar stories on finding true love into something worth reading. I like that I can make references to Magnum PI’s moustache, Capezio shoes, and Ramen noodles because my audience is exactly like me. After dredging up Maxim jokes for men for four years, it’s a welcome break to take the first thing that comes to my mind and slap it into an article.”

WHAT IMEANS TBA SENIOR EDITOR AGLAMOUR:
“It means that everything that happens to my friends and I in our dating lives is fodder for a story. Every two or three weeks, we have an ideas meeting. All the editors come prepared with ideas, of course, but more often, rather than going over them, my editor turns to each of us and asks, ‘What happened on your last date?’

“During one meeting, I told her about a friend of mine who was mad for a jerk who didn’t invite her to his birthday bash, but invited her over the next day to help him clean up — and my friend almost went. After the ‘Oh, noooo!!?’s subsided, we spun it into a two-page story called ‘Temporary Love Insanity’ about other embarrassing things usually sane women have done in the name of lust.

“Where else do you get paid for having a decent social life and a keen ear for interesting stories?”

FUTURE PLANS:
“I’m getting a kick out of editing right now, and magazine life suits me well, so I’ll probably stay in the business for a few more years. My other plan is to find the energy to complete one of the two novels I’ve started, like every other twentysomething writer on the face of the earth.

“I want to be able to look at a stack of pages and know that the words are all by me and for me. Kind of like the sous chef who opens her own restaurant — I want to be able to say ‘If it was all left up to me, this is what I’m capable of.'”

STAT SHEET:

[BOY SINGER] I’m really into the voice of that guy from Coldplay. When he sings that line “Look at the stars?” in “Yellow,” I about lose my motor skills.

[GIRL SINGER] Shirley Bassey.

[BAND] Changes daily. Today it’s Massive Attack.

[AUTHOR] Anne Tyler absolutely KILLS me. She can create characters like nobody’s business, and after reading eight of her books, I’m still surprised that I pick up a new one and get so wrapped up in the story that I finish it in two days.

[LAST BOOK READ] I’m almost finished reading Prozac Nation. It’s a gas.

[CUISINE] I get cravings for Japanese hibachi food. Never mind that you really only get it in restaurants like Benihana, favored by 13-year-old birthday girls.

[LEISURE ACTIVITY] Rollercoasters. Pretty far from ‘leisurely’ but I once drove 13 straight hours just to ride the best one in the country.

[WORK ACTIVITY] Taking a break from work and going down to the Conde Nast cafeteria for rice crispie treats.

[ARTIST] Sante D’Orazio, the photographer. I flip through one of his celebrity photo books about once a month. Seriously shiny happy people.

[HEROINE] Michelle Yeoh. That woman kicks ass, among other things.

[GETTING READY MUSIC] A CD called Lazy Dog, based on club night in London by the same name. Second CD, mixed by DJ Jay Hannan, track 5, Cada Vez. Puts the boogie in your bootie.

[GUILTY PLEASURE] TV marathons. Real World/Road Rules challenge. Eco-challenge. Making the Band. You give me eleven episodes, I’ll give you my entire Saturday afternoon.

 

—Amy

Love & Happiness Advice for Single Parents

March 4th, 2015

I’ve been interviewed a number of times lately for a few different kinds of stories, but one I come back to pretty often: dating, love and happiness advice for single moms and dads—some of the hardest working people in life-business. Here is some of my love, happiness and dating advice for parents going it alone.

1: How to Deal with Your Ex’s New Partner

First, some advice for single moms dealing with her ex’s new partner that appeared on Yahoo News. The wonderfully honest story, by writer Chrissi Coppa, was called Tom Brady’s Ex Deserves Praise for her Gracious Co-Parenting Tweet, and I offered my insight on what it meant that Bridget Moynahan tweeted a congratulations to the Patriots following their win, and what that meant for her son and their family.

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2. How to Date as a Single Parent

I also offered some of my dating tips for single parents for a piece that appeared in Parenting.com and CNN.com among others. 

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I wish I could give a free copy of Meeting Your Half-Orange to every last single mom or single dad in the country, because I truly believe that it could help shift how they feel in a meaningful way.

The way I see it, when you are feeling overwhelmed and down on yourself or your circumstances—which is so often the case with single parents who don’t have even .001 second to think about themselves because they are so focused on their child/children—the best thing you can do for yourself emotionally is find a way to adjust your perspective and feelings so that you can get through each day in a happier place. The more in control, positive, hopeful and happy you feel, the better a person, a parent and a provider you can be.

—Amy

Julianne Moore: How Lucky am I?

February 25th, 2015

My latest cover story gave me someone to truly root for at this year’s Academy Awards: Julianne Moore, who won for Best Actress for her role in Still Alice. ParadeCOVERJulianne and I chatted for last weekend’s issue of Parade. You can read the full story, Julianne Moore: How Lucky Am I? online at Parade magazine, located on The Washington Post‘s site.

She talks about her experience preparing for Still Alice, how her parents interests influenced the kinds of roles she still chooses today and why she feels so lucky on all counts at this time in her life. Plus, Francis Lawrence, who directed Julianne in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay movies, had a few unique things to tell me about Julianne’s work on set, too.

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—Amy

 

My Happy Love App

February 11th, 2015

Okay. So. I’ve updated my iPhone app Half-Orange Optimisms. And in addition to making sure it works on all the iOS platforms and the newest iPhones, I’ve added a whopping 150 *brand new* thoughts to it. Which means the app now has more than 250 positive ideas to happy up your love life. Can you take it? I can barely take it.

HalfOrangeOptimisms

You can find out more about the Half-Orange Optimisms app on the iTunes store. If you already have the app, be sure to update it to Version 2.0! And if you don’t have it, check it out. Because these are all original words of mine, and I wrote every single positive idea with happy love in mind.

Description

Do you sometimes feel discouraged with dating and love? If you could use a pep talk every now and then about yourself and your dating life, Half-Orange Optimisms is here.

 Your “half-orange” (the translation of the Spanish term mi media naranja) describes your sweetheart and perfect other half. And the path to yours can be paved using dating optimism. Use them as a companion piece to the book Meeting Your Half-Orange: An Upbeat Guide to Using Dating Optimism to Find Your Perfect Match by Amy Spencer, or just dive into dating optimism on your own!

These are not reprints of quotes or lines you’ve read before. Half-Orange Optimisms are freshly original tips and insights that provide the dating optimism you want on demand! Like a Magic Eight Ball of love wisdom, they’re the words of dating and life encouragement you need to hear at the time you need to hear them. 

Just ask for some sweet orange guidance, then shake the phone for the dose you need to turn on your positivity and draw the right person straight to you. And when an Optimism really hits home, email it to yourself or a good friend for an added boost.



OptimismsSquareFEATURES:
• Over 250 original, unique Optimisms written by Amy Spencer.
• Get a new Optimism every time you shake.
• Optimisms are more than just inspiring quotes—they provide actionable suggestions and ideas for improving your relationship point of view.
• A bright animated 3D orange delivers your message.
• Email your favorite Optimisms to yourself or a friend. Or save one to paste in your Notes app, a post or a tweet! (Note: There is not a Saved Favorites page within the app.)
• Optimisms are for all singles—women and men, single or divorced, of every age. If you are seeking your other half or just want reminders to make the most of a love you have, these words are for you.

Your thoughts about dating can change your love life forever. Let Half-Orange Optimisms help you put your thoughts in a positive state of mind. Visit amyspencer.com to contact Amy and learn more about this app, as well as the books and the optimism that goes with it.

What’s New in Version 2.0

Big fixes and updates with this one! Cleaned out all the bugs and freshened it up, so it’s now working perfectly and up to date for all iOS and iPhones from the 4 on. Plus: I’ve added a whopping 150 *brand new* Optimisms in this version, so the app now offers more than 250 fresh, inspiring thoughts to enhance your gorgeous life even more.

–Amy

Get Ready for Ellen’s Design Challenge

January 16th, 2015

I have paint and primer all over my hands. And some on my knee. And I just found some on my forearm earlier. But it’s all for a good cause: I’m re-doing my bathroom. Yes, I could pay someone to do it, but I love DIY and home design, which is why I also love HGTV. Which is why when I got the opportunity to meet and talk to the cast of an upcoming design show on the HGTV channel for HGTV Magazine, I jumped!

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And here’s the really fun part: The show is the brainchild of Ellen DeGeneres, called Ellen’s Design Challenge. Check out my newest piece in the Jan/Feb 2015 issue of HGTV Magazine to meet the six furniture designers who will compete on the show. The premiere episode is Sunday, January 25, at 9 pm. And believe you me, I’ll be watching.

—Amy

Dr. Oz Magazine: Where’s Your 4 a.m. Zen?

January 9th, 2015

Man, I used to be so good at sleep. If sleep was a school subject, mine was like recess: a break so stress-free, that by the time the bell rang, I was refreshed and ready to go. And then things changed overnight—literally overnight.

Dr. Oz Up at 4 am? By Amy Spencer

Here’s what I mean: I can still fall asleep easily, usually dozing off with a book in my hands into a dreamy, deep slumber. But once a week or so, I wake up at 3 or 4 a.m.—sometimes because I heard a car alarm, sometimes because I have to pee—and instead of drifting back into Dreamland, my mind takes a detour through Worryville. Yep, that’s when I get the bright idea to stress about the work I have to do and the relationships I have to fix and the bills I have to pay. And the more I worry, the more awake I feel, and the more stressed out I get about how tired I’ll be the next day—you know, when I have work to do and relationships to fix and bills to pay! It can take me an hour or two to fall asleep again, and by morning when my alarm goes off, I’m groggy, foggy, and annoyed. Plus, those problems I tossed and turned over? They don’t even seem as big a deal anymore—and I’m mad at myself for losing sleep over them!

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Now, let me guess: This has happened to you, too, right? If so, check out my cover story for the January/February 2015 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life magazine: Turn Off Stress So You Can Sleep.

I got to speak with the biggest experts in the sleep and insomnia fields, who helped me understand 1) why we wake in the night 2) what’s keeping us up 3) how to fall back asleep and 4) how to avoid middle-of-the-night wake-ups in the first place.

The advice has helped me immensely in my own life, and I hope the piece helps you, too. Pick up the Jan/Feb 2015 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life to see if it works for you, too.

Sweet dreams,

—Amy

Jen Widerstrom Gets Us Going in 2015

January 9th, 2015

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There’s nothing like some good fitness advice to get us all started fresh for the new year. Which is why I was so personally excited to be able to meet up with Jen Widerstrom, one of the two newest trainers on The Biggest Loser, to pick her brain.

For all of our benefit, I wanted to get more of her inspiring health secretes firsthand. And after a chilled out sit-down in North Hollywood on a warm afternoon, here’s the result: a fun collection of some of Jen’s best advice.

Check out the January/February 2015 issue of Health magazine for all the goodies, including: The best and worst things we can do for ourselves in our health. The best way to bounce back after overeating. The one fitness move you can survive and thrive on. Or read it online here at Health.com: Jen Widerstrom’s Shape-Up Secrets.

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—Amy

Hilary Duff on “Fighting for Happiness”

December 5th, 2014

I love when someone I interview brings up the subject of happiness while we’re chatting, because—as you can imagine—it’s one of my favorite things to talk about! In this case, it was Hilary Duff, in the December issue of Health magazine. She was talking about her brand new album and her new TV show, Younger, both out in 2015, as well as her relationship, son, and healthy lifestyle.

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You can read the interview here, on the Health.com site: I Know What Makes Me Happy: Hilary Duff.

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-Amy