About two and a half years ago, a young business journalist named Sammi Caramela started freelancing for her former coworkers’ new marketing agency, Lightning Media Partners.
As our client base grew, so did the amount of work we could delegate to Sammi. She quickly became an invaluable part of our team, moving from project-based freelancer, to retainer copywriter and editor, to part-time employee. In November 2020, Sammi became our first full-time staff member, and today she serves as our Assistant Managing Editor.
In this role, Sammi works closely with Sean and me to process our clients’ editorial projects and assign them out to our team of freelance copywriters. Sammi helps us conduct preliminary research on each assigned article and create a handy outline for the writers to follow. She also does an initial copy edit to ensure every article meets our clients’ style guide and formatting specifications.
Even more impressive? In the time she’s been working with us, Sammi has also managed to write and publish a Young Adult novel called “Some Place Like Home.”
We asked Sammi a few questions about her career, her vision for the future, and why she’ll defend the Oxford comma to the death.
What made you want to become a writer?
Writing is such a solitary act, and I’ve always been a bit of a recluse. While I have my outgoing moments, I am someone who needs space to sit alone and go over my thoughts — even as a child. Writing allows me to better understand my emotions and articulate them in a way that connects me with others.
I also am a chronic daydreamer, which I think most writers can say about themselves. I’m constantly creating scenarios in my head or wishing to escape to a fictional world. There are stories within me that are begging to be written, and it’s cathartic to channel my own experiences and struggles while bringing characters to life.
Tell us about your very first professional work experience. What’s the most important thing you learned?
My first experience as a writer, aside from clubs in high school and college, was at a local newspaper in Red Bank, New Jersey. It was an unpaid internship for which I commuted an hour to and from three days a week (while working part-time as a hostess in the evenings). To be honest, while working in that position, I learned that I didn’t want to be a news reporter. I was filled with anxiety each morning heading to the job, knowing I’d have to interview people about breaking stories, some being extremely emotional, while stifling my own feelings for the sake of an article.
As a writer, I take pride in being human and supporting others. While news reporting is a super important job, and I give so much credit to journalists, I realized it was not the right fit for me. At the time, I thought this was the end of the world and I would never make it as a writer, but there is so much you can do in this industry — if you have the passion and heart to really chase what you actually enjoy.
Describe your typical morning.
Each morning, I wake up at around 6:30 a.m. to brew some coffee and read a book for about an hour. I put some soft music on in the back and allow myself some “me” time before I start the day. Then, at around 7:30, I start to map out my to-dos and really dive into work at 8.
You’re now a full-time Content Manager and soon-to-be published YA author. What’s your next big career goal?
I am so content where I am right now. This is exactly where I’ve always wanted to be: working for a company that truly values my time and effort while pursuing creative writing on the side. My goal is to continue growing at LMP, so I can support small business owners in their own passions, and keep writing/publishing novels.
Additionally, I am super passionate about mental health, and I’d like to write more about that, including my own experiences, on my blog to reach a wider audience.
Very important question: Oxford comma or no, and why?
YES. I will fight anyone on this until the day I die. Each item in a list deserves to shine on its own. Without the Oxford comma, the last two items are seen as a pair. That just isn’t fair. Not to mention, it’s confusing to the reader. It’s not that hard. Just add the comma.
1. Coffee or tea?: COFFEE — 4-5 cups a day, at that.
2. Summer or winter?: Summer
3. Cats or dogs?: Both! Please don’t make me choose.
4. Sun or moon?: Moon
5. First song that pops up on your Spotify shuffle: Be Easy – “A Will Away”
6. Your favorite band no one else is listening to: No Dice
7. Last thing you ate: Toast with butter (where’s mom-mom’s tomato sauce for dipping?)
8. Where would you travel right now if you could?: Austin, Texas to see my best friend
9. One book you’ll never stop rereading: I’ve actually never reread a book. Too many books out there to revisit an old one!
10. Describe yourself in three words: Creative, spiritual, empathetic