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1. A gentle reminder about a fabulous author.

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2. The finalists for the 2014 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Awards...

Sorrow's knot...have been announced.

The middle grade/YA list is:

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B, by Teresa Toten

Ultra, by David Carroll

Little Red Lies, by Julie Johnston

Jane, the Fox and Me, by Fanny Britt of Montreal

Sorrow's Knot, by Erin Bow

Click on through for the picture book nominees, and also be sure to take a look at who decides on the winners: pretty cool, huh?

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3. Get Book Recommendations Using Yasiv’s Amazon Products Visualization Tool

yasivtoolYasiv, a visual recommendation service, has created a tool that lets you find recommendations for books, movies and video games, based on what you already like. Users can enter a book they like, say The Hunger Games, and the tool will reveal every version of the book or movie that is available on Amazon, as well as other related items such as The Hobbit, Divergent and Fundamentals of English Grammar.
The tool bases its connections on past purchases on Amazon. Check it out: “We often decide what to buy based on what others are buying, and that’s no bad thing, after all. If something is bought by many of our friends there has to be a reason. Maybe it’s a good product and worth the money? This is where Yasiv steps in; it shows you what people are buying along with other products. A link between the two products means that they are often bought together. By simply observing the network of products one can guess at what is popular and what isn’t.”
Follow this link to explore the tool.

 

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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4. Giuliana Rancic Pens Memoir

awards-and-achievmnts5

According to Publisher’s Weekly, Giuliana Rancic sold world rights to her memoir to Crown Archetype. Rancic is currently co-anchor of E! News and also stars in the reality show, Giuliana and Bill with her husband, Bill Rancic. According to Crown the book will be an inspiring one, touching on everything from Rancic’s childhood, growing up poor in Naples, to her more recent battles with infertility and breast cancer.

There are many things that my fans, my friends, even my family never knew about my private struggle. I hope by writing this book and sharing my journey, I can be an inspiration to those facing their own personal turmoil.

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5. Fusenews: Not seething with envy. It’s more of a percolation process.

  • bookcon Fusenews: Not seething with envy. Its more of a percolation process.So what’s the talk of the town these days?  Well the relative brouhaha came about at the end of last week when ReedPOP announced a panel of “the world’s biggest children’s authors” in the field.  That the luminaries in question were all white and male struck a raw nerve with a whole slew of folks.  Since that moment there’s been some fancy footwork and a promise to add some additional folks.   The solution is ludicrously simple, of course.  If the gist of the grouping is to have the top selling authors of books for kids then just grab Rachel Renee Russell and ask her to join.  The fact that she isn’t tapped for more panels has always struck me as odd.
  • I am not immune to professional jealousy.  Wish that I was.  Fortunately, most of the time I am able to convert the green eyed monster into genuine fascination and interest (much, I’m sure, to the discomfort of the people I’m suddenly obsessed with).  Take this week’s example: One Margaret H. Willison.  I was listening to Pop Culture Happy Hour, a podcast I like quite a lot in spite of the fact that they can’t tell YA fiction from MG.  Anywho, they have a children’s librarian that they love very very much.  Ms. Willison has been a longstanding fan of theirs and Stephen Thompson mentioned that she was on track to be the next Nancy Pearl of children’s books.  Oh aye!  So I checked her out and she did a NPR piece called 3 Bedtime Picture Books That Won’t Put Parents to Sleep.  Excellent choices one and all.  She’s one to watch then.
  • This news made me inordinately happy recently.  The Multnomah County Library System and the Seattle Public Library went head to head in an all out reference battle.  The question?  Who could answer the most book recommendation queries via Twitter?  And I am happy to report that Portland (where the Multnomah system lives) won all the way!!  Way to go, you literary denizens you.  Thanks to AL Direct for the link.
  • Recently a new library opened up at NYU.  Called the Georgiou Library and Resource Center for Children and Literature the site will do a lot of outreach to the community as well as operate as a research facility.  Its librarian is the multi-talented Kendra Tyson and the collection, “contains several categories of children’s literature, including counting books, fairy tales, poetry, biography, and holiday books. It also houses Mother Goose books geared for African, Chinese and Russian audiences, bi-lingual counting books, and the Metropolitan Museum’s of Art’s Museum ABC (Little Brown, 2002), which portrays a range of world cultures through its collections.”  I was lucky enough to attend a small event for the library recently and in the course realized that there are other similar collections out there that I just don’t know well enough.  Like the Cotsen Children’s Library, for example.  Some of you will nod sagely and murmur “of course” when I mention it but to me I was ashamed to discover that not only are they the Princeton children’s library but they maintain these FABULOUS blogs!  The Cotsen Children’s Library blog is updated quite regularly and the Pop Goes the Page is maybe the best arts & crafts for library programs blog I’ve witnessed in a very long time.  They’ve also archived a variety of different interviews with children’s authors called The Bibliofiles that are well worth finding too.  Man.  That would be the life working at either of these libraries, am I right?
  • Good old, ShelfTalker.  I love it when they list a whole slew of their favorite first lines of 2014.  And in the process I discovered at least one book that I hadn’t even heard of until I read its line.  Bonus!
  • You know what?  Fair play to Mackenzie Kruvant.  There she is at Buzzfeed, slaving away with such pieces as “Which Sex And The City Guy Is Your Soulmate?” but often she’ll come up with a really good children’s literature piece.  Example: 15 Adorable Children’s Books For Your Little Architect .  Perhaps she got some help from a librarian somewhere to write it, but if she didn’t then it’s a pretty darn good encapsulation of what’s out there.  Well played, madam.

bigbadbubble Fusenews: Not seething with envy. Its more of a percolation process.NYPL likes it when I blog on their site from time to time, so I’ll tend to do pieces I wouldn’t normally do here.  Case in point, recently I did the post Make ‘Em Laugh: Gut-Busting Picture Books That’ll Have ‘Em Rolling in the Aisles.  I really try to give attention to funny picture books when they come out.  And though I didn’t mention them in the piece (I only included stuff you could currently check out of the collection) if I were to put that post here I’d be sure to include the 2014 titles Big Bad Bubble by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri (without a doubt their best work to date) and Monkey Goes Bananas by C. P. Bloom and Peter Raymundo.  Both books are danged funny.  If I make a funny picture book prize this year, they will both be up for serious contention.

A friend on mine on Facebook mentioned that he had a 12-year-old in his branch who was interested in Socialism and did we have any books to recommend?  Naturally my thoughts turned to Little Rebels, but that’s a lot of picture books (many of which are out of print).  Fortunately marxists.org (!) has a booklist of its own.  Say they, “This is the start of an ongoing broad bibliography of children’s literature for MIA with title first, divided by age range and fiction/non-fiction. Some of these books were written to be expressly radical, and others need a stretch to find political implications. Compiled by Sally Ryan.”  Cool.

  • Hey, remember when I mentioned that I’d interviewed Deborah Underwood about her amazing Bad Bye, Good Bye?  I got a little confused about when it was going to post but now, happily, it is up up up!  If you ever wanted to know the ins and outs of writing a rhyming picture book, you are indeed lucky.
  • Got a little confused with the headline on this one, but as it happens it has absolutely nothing to do with the bookstore Books of Wonder here in NYC.  No, this little article is instead about a cool new collection within the Toronto Public Library.  Its full name is “The IBBY Collection of Books for Young People with Disabilities”.  Say they: “As its official name indicates, this collection comes from IBBY, the International Board on Books for Young People. The IBBY collection features more than 3000 multilingual books in sign language, Braille, Blissymbolics, as well as cloth and tactile books and other formats — all for and about children and teens with disabilities.”  I’m downright envious again.  Thanks to Deb Pearson for the link.
  • In the world of book awards we’ve two to consider today.  The Eisner Award nominations came out and I see a lot of familiar faces in the youth category.  Meanwhile the Minnesota Book Awards were announced and you might be surprised to discover some of the winners.
  • Whenever someone asks adult authors to name the children’s books that inspired them there is a danger of the books being the same old, same old.  That’s part of the reason I like this post from World Literature Today.  Yes, there are some rote choices, but there are also some really obscure titles. The Summerfolk by Doris Burn? The Three Fat Men by Yuri Olesha? Tim and the Hidden People by Sheila K. McKullagh?!?  Wowza.  Thanks to Mom for the link.
  • Daily Image:

Good news, poppins.  Today you have a chance to buy cool things and be a good person in the process.  And just in time for my incipient birthday too!  The site Out of Print has been killing it in the library-chic neighborhood.  Observe the cool things that there are to buy:

librarytshirt1 498x500 Fusenews: Not seething with envy. Its more of a percolation process.

librarybag 497x500 Fusenews: Not seething with envy. Its more of a percolation process.

libraryiphone 500x500 Fusenews: Not seething with envy. Its more of a percolation process.

Mom, Kate, I will happily take that iPhone case.  Wouldn’t say no to any of those baby onesies, for that matter.

Now, how does buying this stuff make you a good person?  Well, it seems the site is THIS WEEK (it is National Library Week after all – my workplace got me a mug and everything) giving money to the following school if you buy stuff.  Voila:

P.S. 244 (The Active Learning Elementary School “TALES”) is an early childhood public school (Pre-K to 3rd grade) located in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens, New York. The majority of students do not speak English at home and qualify for subsidized meal plans, yet at TALES they thrive. A model for public schools at both the national and state level, P.S. 244 has been recognized for its focus on health and nutrition and ranks among the healthiest schools in the country. In 2013, P.S. 244 also ranked 11th in the state for test scores and has been heralded for its innovative curriculum and extremely hard working staff.

With all of these strengths, they also have challenges. The school’s current library has no formal checkout system and relies on volunteer staff. The result? The space serves more like a reading room than a true library. Students aren’t able to check out and read these books at home, families miss out on sharing the joy of reading with their kids and the school is unable to implement a summer reading program to enhance student reading skills during off-school periods.

Help us to give this school and its students the library they deserve. During National Library Week (April 13-20), we are donating a portion of our sales to purchase and implement a scanning system for P.S. 244 and to train staff to manage it. We will post updates after the donation and share stories from students and teachers about the impact of this new system.

Many thanks to Ms. Marci for the links!

share save 171 16 Fusenews: Not seething with envy. Its more of a percolation process.

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6. Happy National Poetry Month

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April is National Poetry Month. The Academy of American Poets, celebrates its 80th anniversary this year.

In 2011, Samantha Reynolds started Bentlily, a site where she documents her goal to write one poem-a-day.

I pledged to write one poem a day. Not to rack up reams of poetry — that was just a lovely side effect. No, the real goal was to train me to see the world constantly with the eyes of a poet, which means to slow down, savour, take delight in, and note the very essence of the world around me.

Poets.org has a poem-a-day for the entire month of April.

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7. Guest post by Gueh Yanting, Claudine


I am delighted to share a great guest post on the blog today.

Dear March House Books Readers,

Although I can’t remember it, I heard my first story from my parents. Not from story books, no. Real-life stories. Theirs.

They were the children who ran around in villages (we call them Kampong) in Singapore during the 50s and 60s, slippers slapping the dusty paths and clothes drenched when they hopped into ponds to catch fish. And that’s where the setting-inspiration for my children’s novel (in mid-60s) came from.

{How the Kampong looked like. Picture from Google Images Labeled for Reuse with Modifications. 
Source: http://comesingapore.com/travel-guide/article/607/ten-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-singapore}

I asked my father, who especially loves telling snippets from his childhood, to contribute some for this post, and here’s what he told me:

·         As my father has 11 brothers and 3 sisters, they all crammed in one house, with one yard and owned one family plantation. My grandfather also reared chickens and pigs. At one point, there were more than 20 people (wives and baby cousins) living in that house!

·         My father and his brothers were too poor to afford school bags, so they used rattan baskets instead. When they had to sharpen their pencils, they used my grandfather’s shaving blade. They used to cut themselves quite often but never worried about it.

·         They showered using only one bar of soap: for the hair, face and body. That bar of soap was actually also used for laundry.

·         When he got off school at around 1pm, my father would return to the fields to help out. After completing his chores, he and my uncles would play at a nearby pond. Their main hobby was catching a certain species called ‘Fighting Fish’ and … letting them fight, I suppose.

·         Snacks were usually wrapped in newspapers. Sometimes they bought dried hawthorn flakes. If they didn’t have money for snacks, they’d get sweet potatoes from their fields, and roast them on a bed of charcoals.

{Dried Hawthorn Flakes/Cakes. Picture from Google Images Labeled for Reuse with Modifications.}

·         When the weather was hot, and in Singapore it mostly is, the children would buy balls of shaved ice to eat. The man who sold ice balls would drizzle colourful sugar syrup over them. By the way, we still have these at our marketplaces. During my childhood, it was also one of our favourite desserts. They are shaped like a small hill now, and have extra corn or red bean toppings, like this:


{Shaved Ice, a.k.a. Ice Kachang. Picture from Google Images Labeled for Reuse with Modifications.}

·         During lunar new years, parents would give children red packets (money stuffed in small, red envelopes) on New Year’s Eve, symbolizing good fortune for the coming year. When my father and some of his brothers received theirs, they spent all the money on firecrackers. Lighting up firecrackers was still legal then in Singapore. And they absolutely loved it! I suspect my father is waiting for Baby Olive (my one-year-old niece) to be slightly older so he could buy sparklers and play with her during New Year’s Eve.


{Red Packets. Picture from Google Images Labeled for Reuse with Modifications.}

·        My father studied in the village school till he was Primary 4, which was the highest level in that school. To go on to Primary 5, students had to travel farther out. My father and his brothers didn’t have the gift for studies, because even when they’d reached Primary 2 or 3 (around 8-9 years old), they were still not accustomed to gripping a pencil and writing with it. Usually, my grandfather or one of the elder brothers would have to steady their elbows in order for them to write neatly!

·         So he stopped studying after that and worked in my grandfather’s fields until he was about 16. Then he went into the construction industry.

A Gross, Mushroom Story (If you have a weak stomach, please skip this part!)

Those days, the nearest toilet could be quite far away and it was inconvenient to walk in the dark to get to one. People had chamber pots instead. However, with so many people under one roof, pots were too small. My family used pickled jars.

Sometimes they only poured the waste away after a few days. I’m not quite sure about this because I haven’t seen few-day-old urine, but I hear there would be sediments or dregs left in the jars.

Once, my grandfather stepped on a big, rusty nail. It was likely to give him a bad inflammation. Yet, he didn’t go to the hospital. They distrusted hospitals. My family had learned of a traditional folk cure, which was to soak a mushroom in the urine dregs overnight before applying it onto the wound. It sounds terribly gross, but it did work. The swelling went down the next day and my grandfather recovered fully soon after.


My father also told stories about adulthood, like how female guests attended wedding meals in the afternoon and all went home with a flower in their hair while male guests attended the evening round and each got a cigar, and how villagers called on midwives rather than hospital nurses when one of the women went into labour, and how one of my aunts ran off with a man she knew only briefly. My grandfather was livid, but they managed to get her back. That was the year the Queen of England visited Singapore.

Those were the days that were tough, but those were also the days my father and his brothers had the most fun. Those were the days I hadn’t experienced except through his stories. Those were the days (or close enough) that I’ve let my latest characters live in.



Gueh Yanting, Claudine, has written and published two picture ebooks (age 6 & up) and one middle-grade ebook (age 9 & up). Her latest story, LITTLE ORCHID’S SEA MONSTER TROUBLE, is about a girl trying to prove to her Ma that she hasn’t been spouting nonsense about the Giant Cuttlefish, and later turning into a sea monster herself. It is set in Singapore in 1965.

Check it out here:


Thank you so much for letting me spread my father’s story snippets here on your lovely blog, Barbara. I hope your readers enjoy them!


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8. Successful Queries: Agent Sara Megibow and “Falls the Shadow”

This series is called “Successful Queries”

and I’m posting actual query letter examples that succeeded in getting writers signed with agents. In addition to posting these query letter samples, we will also get to hear thoughts from the writer’s literary agent as to why the letter worked.

The 66th installment in this series is with agent Sara Megibow (Nelson Literary) for Stefanie Gaither’s young adult novel, FALLS THE SHADOW

(Sept 2014, Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers). Kristi Helvig, author of BURN OUT, said of the book: “[It's] a smart, futuristic thriller that grabs you and doesn’t let go until the very last page. This is a fantastic debut.”

(Agents share their query letter pet peeves.)

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 10.09.36 AM

 

 

Dear Ms. Megibow,

I’m currently seeking representation for my YA novel, FALLS THE SHADOW. Given your interest in science fiction, I thought it might be a good fit for your list.

When Cate Benson was twelve, her sister died. Two hours after the funeral, they picked up Violet’s replacement, and the family made it home in time for dinner and a game of cards.

It’s the year 2055, and Cate’s parents are among the wealthy elite who can afford to give their children a sort of immortality—by cloning them at birth. So this new Violet has the same smile. The same laugh. That same perfect face. Thanks to advancements in mind-uploading technology, she even has all the same memories as the girl she replaced.

She also might have murdered the most popular girl in school.

Or at least, that’s what the paparazzi and the crazy anti-cloning protestors want everyone to think: that clones are violent, unpredictable monsters. Cate is used to hearing all that, though. She’s used to standing up for her sister too, and she’s determined to do it now—even if proving Violet’s innocence means taking on those protestors and anyone else attacking her family. But when her own life is threatened—not by protestors, but by the very scientists who created her sister’s clone—Cate starts questioning everything she thought she knew about the cloning movement. About herself. About her sister.

And the answers she finds reveal a more sinister purpose for her sister’s copy—and her own replacement—than she ever could have imagined.

FALLS THE SHADOW is complete at 80,000 words, and is the first in a planned series. The manuscript is available, in part or full, upon request. Thanks for your time and consideration!

Best,

Stefanie Gaither

 

COMMENTARY BY AGENT SARA MEGIBOWfind it on Amazon already

.]

(Query letter FAQs answered.)

 

Need help crafting an awesome plot for your
story? Check out the new acclaimed resource
by Ronald Tobias, 20 Master Plots.

 

Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:How NOT to Pitch Your Book.

  • Examining an Excellent Pitch.
  • Genre Author Taylor Stevens Explains “How I Got My Agent.”
  • How I Got My Agent: Oksana Marafioti, Author of AMERICAN GYPSY
  • .
  • Sell More Books by Building Your Author Platform
  • .
  • Follow Chuck Sambuchino on Twitter
  • or find him on Facebook. Learn all about his writing guides on how to get published, how to find a literary agent, and how to write a query letter.

     

    Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
    Create Your Writer Platform

    Order the book from WD at a discount

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    9. Science Poetry Pairings - Seasons

    Every year from Kindergarten through second grade, my son came home with a picture he'd drawn of an apple tree seen through all four seasons. While I love the book that these were modeled on, I often found myself wishing that this activity was done at the end of the year as a culmination of months of studying the same schoolyard tree through the seasons. This isn't hard to do and teaches kids much about the skill of observation and keeping a nature journal. It's also a much better way to document the changing of the seasons. It may take longer to teach this way, but the benefits of long-term study are undeniable and vastly more interesting.

    Today's book pairing offers an unusual, non-traditional and very clever look at our four seasons.

    Poetry Book
    Pumpkin Butterfly: Poems From the Other Side of Nature, written by Heidi Mordhorst and illustrated by Jenny Reynish, is a collection of 23 poems that begins with fall and cycles through the year's seasons, inviting readers to think about the signs of these seasons and new and extraordinary ways. Readers will be struck by the terribly clever metaphors as they find new ways to see and think about the world around them. Here's one of the poems that I particularly love.
    Botanical Jazz

    Quiet down, flower—
    not so loud!

    All this stretching your neck
    and spreading your arms
    bellowing your brassy yellow sass—

    you’re breaking our eyedrums
    trumpeting all that color and sun
    blowing that blazing yellow jazz. . . .

    Belt it out, flower—
    we’ll join in!
    As someone who uses poetry to teach science, I especially appreciate Mordhorst's gift for observation and her use of metaphor to help us see the everyday in new ways. Here's a terrific example of this.
    Fireplace

    It's only because of
    the low December sun bearing
    down along the street
    that I notice
    half a dozen fires without flame
    smoldering among the roots of

    a monumental oak where
    leaves and fat acorns have pooled.
    Their whispering columns of smoke
    climb the trunk,
    turning it into a risky thing:
    a chimney made of wood.

    I follow the white morning beams,
    mingle my clouded breath with
    the twisting wisps of smoke, and
    warm my hands
    over the burning of those
    acorn coals, of that timber chimney.
    Poems © Heidi Mordhorst. All rights reserved.

    While these are ostensibly nature poems, they so keenly reflect the markers of each season that together they make this a perfect book for sharing during a study of the seasons.


    Nonfiction Picture Book
    Our Seasons, written by Grace Lin and Ranida McKneally and illustrated by Grace Lin, is a beautiful combination of science and poetry that explores questions children often have about these seasons. Beginning with fall, each season is explored in three double-page spreads that includes a haiku, related question, and the answer to that question.

    Before the exploration of seasons begins, the book opens with this haiku and question-answer selection.
    When the earth is cold
    We long for the butterflies,
    Yet in warmth we want snow.
    Why do we have seasons? 
    Did you know that the earth is titled as it revolves around the sun? If you drew an imaginary line through the earth's poles, this line (the axis) would be tilted at an angle, not straight up and down. The tilt of the axis never changes, so part of the year you are facing the sun more directly and part of the year you are not. Which season you experience depends on where you live and on the time of year.
    Questions explored through the seasons include:
    • What makes the wind?
    • Why do leaves change color?
    • Why do I see my breath?
    • What is snow?
    • Why is there frost on the window?
    • Why do my cheeks turn red in the cold?
    • What makes a thunderstorm?
    • Why do bees like flowers?
    • Why do I sneeze?
    • Why is the air sticky?
    • Why do fireflies glow?
    • Why do I tan?
    Text © Grace Lin and Ranida McKneally. All rights reserved.

    The answers to each of these questions are written in a clear, understandable, and engaging manner. The book wraps up with the answer to the question, "Does everyone have four seasons?" Back matter includes a glossary of terms.

    Perfect Together
    While not a typical look at the seasons, Mordhorst's poetry will encourage students to look for signs of the seasons and imagine them in different ways. Pair this with Lin and McKneally's book to provide answers to often asked questions about the seasons and common events that occur in each.

    For additional resources, consider these sites.
    Finally, if you decide you want to try a year-long tree study, consider using this amazing book.

    Sky Tree: Seeing Science Through Art, written by Thomas Locker and Candace Christiansen and illustrated by Thomas Locker, is a detailed look at one tree through a single year. The gorgeous oil paintings and lyrical text invite readers to look closely at the world around them. The author's note that opens the book reads:
    I have spent most of my life learning to paint trees agains the ever changing sky. After all these years I still cannot look at a tree without being filled with a sense of wonder. 
    Since I began collaborating with Candace Christiansen, who is a science teacher, I have become increasingly aware of the scientific approach to the natural world. I was amazed to discover that the more scientific facts I learned, the deeper my sense of wonder became. This realization led to the creation of Sky Tree
    Sky Tree invites adults and children to experience the life of a tree and its relationship to the sky in several different ways. Through storytelling, art appreciation, and scientific exploration, Sky Tree attempts to reach both the heart and mind.
    Back matter includes a section in which questions asked in the text are answered, linking science and art. 

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    10. readergirlz: Support Teen Literature Day & "Rock the Drop"


    By Melissa Walker of readergirlz
    for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

    In conjunction with Support Teen Literature Day, top young adult authors, editors, teen lit advocates, and readers will “Rock the Drop” by leaving their books in public places for new readers to discover and enjoy.

    In recognition of the readergirlz’s seventh birthday of promoting literacy and a love of reading among young women, our fans and followers are also encouraged to donate YA books (or time, or even monetary contributions) to seven very worthy literacy philanthropies.

    Cyn supports Reading is Fundamental!
    The groups include: First Book, The Lisa Libraries, Girls Write Now, 826 National, Room to Read, Reading is Fundamental, and World Literacy Foundation.

    For this year’s Drop, we are also teaming up with Justine Magazine and I Heart Daily to help spread the world and build enthusiasm for this always-enjoyable kick off to spring reading season!

    A nationwide effort of authors, publishers, librarians, educators, and readers

    In its sixth year, Rock the Drop is part of a massive effort by librarians, young adult authors, educators, publishers, and avid readers to spur reading on a nationwide scale. The day aims to encourage teens to read for the fun of it.


    Cyn is dropping...!
    • In past years, more than 100 young adult authors—including David Levithan, Sara Zarr, Libba Bray, Sarah Dessen, and Cynthia Leitich Smith—have “rocked the drop,” leaving copies of their books in public places for teens to find.
    • Publishing houses both “Big Six” and indie alike have donated tens of thousands of books to dedicated literacy philanthropies, in addition to rocking the drop, too.
    • Teens, librarians, teachers, and other fans of YA literature are also invited to rock the drop, on their own or as a group.
    • Participants are encouraged to donate to any of our seven suggested philanthropies – or one of their own! Post on the Readergirlz Facebook page to update us on some of your favorite worthy causes.

    Operation Teen Book Drop aims to reach a large number of teen groups,” rgz diva Melissa Walker said. “We’re thrilled to be celebrating our website’s seventh birthday with this fun, festive day!”

    How to support Rock the Drop:

    Learn more!

    About Support Teen Literature Day

    In its sixth year, Support Teen Literature Day is April 17, 2014, and will be celebrated in conjunction with ALA’s National Library Week. Librarians across the country are encouraged to participate in Support Teen Literature Day by hosting events in their libraries. The celebration raises awareness that young adult literature is a vibrant, growing genre with much to offer today’s teens. Support Teen Literature Day also seeks to showcase award-winning authors and books in the genre, as well as highlight librarians’ expertise in connecting teens with books and other reading materials.

    About readergirlz

    Lorie's new release!
    readergirlz is a literacy and social media project for teens, awarded the National Book Award for Innovations in Reading. The rgz blog serves as a depot for news and YA reviews from industry professionals and teens. As volunteers return full force to their own YA writing, the organization continues to hold one initiative a year to impact teen literacy.

    Launched in March 2007, in celebration of Women's National History Month, readergirlz was cofounded by acclaimed YA authors - Dia Calhoun, Lorie Ann Grover, Justina Chen, and Janet Lee Carey. Readergirlz is currently maintained by awarded YA authors - Micol Ostow, Melissa Walker, and co-founder Lorie Ann Grover.

    rgz Operation Teen Book Drop has donated over 30,000 new YA books to under-served teens.





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    11. Meeting with lions

    Obi, the African Lion. Photo by Angela Reynolds

    Obi, the African Lion. Photo by Angela Reynolds

    I’m changing Summer Reading this year. When I was in Chicago for ALA last summer I saw their Summer of Learning and was duly impressed. I am going to try something similar this summer, using STREAM – Science, Technology, Reading, Experience, Arts, and Math. The Common Core is not a Thing here in Canada (yet) but I love the idea of experience-based Summer Reading Program. Yes, Reading is still a big part of it, the main focus even, but I wanted to offer some experiences rather than Pieces of Plastic as incentives. So I contacted the local zoo. Oaklawn Farm Zoo is small and owned by a couple that are known in our area as generous and kind folks. I had a meeting in their farm house to talk about offering 2 Library Days this summer– 18 and under get in free if they show their library card (and can earn a badge if we get that part figured out).  We sat at the table over tea, muffins, and homemade jam to discuss the details. They liked the idea as much as we did– we’ll be offering storytime and needle felting demos (using zoo-animal fur collected by the keepers). We’ll also take our portable StoryWalk and our Bookmobile for a total library/zoo day! Fun!

    So, we have at least one great experience to offer for our Summer STREAM. And for me, the experience was even more amazing because when we first arrived, we heard ,”Oh, here comes the lion. Put your boots on top of the fridge.” Yes, that’s right. LION. For the winter, a lion cub lived in their house. Obi, the 6-month old African lion strolled in, rolled over on the floor, and allowed us to pet his belly. Library Days at the Zoo — YEAH! Plus, I got to pet a lion. I love my job.

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    12. ‘Heaven is For Real’ Adapted as a Film

    heavenisrealTodd Burpo‘s bestselling Christian novel Heaven is For Real has been adapted into a film. The film was directed by Randall Wallace and stars Greg Kinnear, Kelly Reilly and Thomas Haden Church.

    Like the book, the film from Sony Pictures follows the story of a young boy who claims to visit heaven after a life-saving appendectomy. Check it out:

    Todd and Sonja Burpo are a real-life couple whose son Colton claims to have visited Heaven during a near death experience. Colton recounts the details of his amazing journey with childlike innocence and speaks matter-of-factly about things that happened before his birth: things he couldn’t possibly know. Todd and his family are then challenged to examine the meaning from this remarkable event.

    As Roger Ebert points out, the film is part of Hollywood’s push into marketing faith-based films to Christians.

    Follow this link to check out the trailer.

    New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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    13. What’s the secret to high scores on video games?

    By Siu-Lan Tan


    When playing video games, do you play better with the sound on or off? Every gamer may have an opinion, but what has research shown?

    Some studies suggest that music and sound effects enhance performance. For instance, Tafalla (2007) found that male gamers scored almost twice as many points while playing the first-person shooter game DOOM with the sound on (chilling music, weaponfire, screams, and labored breathing) compared to those playing with the sound off.

    On the other hand, Yamada et al. (2001) found that people had the fastest lap times in the racing game Ridge Racer V when playing with the music off. Interestingly, 10 different music tracks were tested—and the lowest scores were earned when playing with the soundtrack built into the game (Boom Boom Satellite’s “Fogbound”).

    Sometimes the results are more complex. Cassidy and MacDonald (2009) tested people playing a driving game with car sounds effects alone or with car sound effects plus different kinds of music. People playing with music that had been shown to be ‘highly arousing’ (in previous research) drove the fastest—but also made the greatest number of mistakes, such as hitting barriers or knocking over road cones!

    800px-Dubaj

    In our own research (published 2010 and 2012), my colleagues John Baxa and Matt Spackman and I found that people playing Twilight Princess (Legend of Zelda) performed worst when playing with both music and sound effects off. This game provides the player with rich auditory cues that function as warnings, clues for access points, feedback for correct moves such as successful attacks on enemies, and more. Many of these don’t just “double” what you see on the screen.

    As we progressively added more game audio, performance improved. However, surprisingly, our participants performed best when playing with background music playing on a boombox that was unrelated to the game! (This would be like playing a game with the game sound switched off—while your roommate’s music is playing in the background.)

    How to boost your game play?

    So how do we make sense of these findings? And do they shed light on what distinguishes the top gamers?

    A closer look at the individuals in our 2010/2012 study suggested that the majority of our participants—but not all—played better with unrelated background music until they “got the hang of” the game.

    We used a game that was new to everybody. As Twilight Princess is a pretty complex adventure role-playing game, the average player seemed to have to focus attention on the visual information when first navigating the game. So music and sound effects built into the game may have interfered with their concentration, as they had to “tune it out” to focus on visual cues to guide their actions at first.

    800px-Dataspel

    However, our top players (who concluded four days of play in our Videogame Lab with the highest scores) were different. They tended to play better with the game sound on (full music and sound effects coming from both screen and Wiimote) from the very beginning.

    The best players seemed to be better at paying attention to and meaningfully integrating both audio and visual cues effectively—thus benefitting from the richest warnings/clues/feedback. While the typical player strongly favored one sense, the best players were truly playing an audio-visual game from the beginning.

    So…one secret to being a successful gamer may be to sharpen your attention to audio cues (in sound effects and music) within a game. Paying more attention to and integrating cues to both ear and eye may boost your game!

    More than just high scores…

    I’m also reminded of what a participant in our study expressed so well: “There’s more to a game than just high scores. It’s also about being transported and immersed in another world, and music and sound effects are what bring you there.”

    Indeed, the lush cinematic scores take us through the emotional highs and lows of the journey of a game. Atmospheric tracks immerse us in other worlds. Rhythmic tracks serve as an engine to drive the action, the propulsion of the music making the virtual environment appear deeper and the visual array seem to whizz by faster (motion parallax).

    When you have a great soundtrack, music can be the soul of a game.

    Postscript: Sonic Mayhem!

    Recently I had a chance to speak with composer Sonic Mayhem (Sascha Dikiciyan) when we were both interviewed on video game music by Sami Jarroush for Consequence of Sound. Sonic Mayhem is one of the most sought-after video game music composers today. He scored Quake III Arena, Tron: Evolution, Mass Effect 2 & 3, Borderlands, Space Marine, James Bond: Tomorrow Never Dies, Mortal Kombat vs DC, and a ton of other monumental games.

    Click here to view the embedded video.

     Siu-Lan Tan is Associate Professor of Psychology at Kalamazoo College in Michigan, USA. She is primary editor of The Psychology of Music in Multimedia (Oxford University Press 2013), the first book consolidating the research on the role of music in film, television, video games, and computers. A version of this article also appears on Psychology Today. Siu-Lan Tan also has her own blog, What Shapes Film? Read her previous blog posts.

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    Image credits: (1) Dubaj, by Danik9000, CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. (2) Dataspel, by Magnus Fröderberg/norden.org, CC-BY-2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

    The post What’s the secret to high scores on video games? appeared first on OUPblog.

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    14. Cheap read(s): Daniel Pinkwater.

    Young adults Young adultsFYI: A whole bunch of Daniel Pinkwater ebooks are currently available for the low, low price of $2.99, and they're free to borrow if you're a Prime member.

    THE SNARKOUT BOYS. YOUNG ADULT!

    I swoon.

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    15. Leonard Riggio Has Sold 3.7 Million Barnes & Noble Shares

    barnesandnobleBarnes & Noble Chairman Leonard Riggio has sold 3.7 million shares of common stock, a portion of his holdings of Barnes & Noble stock. After the sell off, Riggio’s holdings are expected to represent approximately 20 percent of Barnes & Noble’s Common Stock outstanding.

    “After this sale I remain the Company’s largest shareholder, a position I feel very good about,” explained Leonard Riggio, Chairman of Barnes & Noble, in a statement.  ”I love this company and I believe in its future as I do in all of the wonderful people who work here.” Riggio revealed that his sale is part of his long-term financial and estate planning. He has no plans to sell more stock this calendar year.

    Earlier this month, the Liberty Media Corporation sold of its majority stake in Barnes & Noble “to qualified institutional buyers in reliance on Rule 144A under the Securities Act.” The company kept about 10 percent of its investment in the company.

    New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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    16. 2014 Teen Read Week Site Launch

    As part of Celebrate Teen Literature Day, the 2014 Teen Read Week website officially went live today!

    Online community members now have full access to a variety of resources to help them plan their Teen Read Week. Individuals who are not online community members yet are encouraged to join for free to gain full access to resources, perks, and monthly updates.

    Resources and incentives include:

    • Downloadable low-resolution theme logo
    • Forums: Discuss and share TRW related resources and experiences
    • Grants: Teen Read Week Activity Grant and Teens’ Top Ten Book Giveaway
    • Ready to use planning and publicity tools
    • Products: Posters, bookmarks, manuals, and more
    • Showcase: Share your planned events
    • Webinars : Free access to a live webinar to help you prepare for TRW, as well as archived webinars
    • And more resources and perks to come

    The theme this year for Teen Read Week is Turn Dreams into Reality @ your library and will be celebrated October 12-18, 2014. The national spokesperson for this year’s celebration is Australian actor Brenton Thwaites, who stars in the highly anticipated movie adaptation of the book, The Giver, set for release on August 15, 2014.

    As libraries shift into full gear to plan for Teen Read Week, authors and publishers are reminded that they can also be involved in Teen Read Week as well. Publishers and other corporate groups can become sponsors to help YALSA build the capacity of libraries to meet the literacy needs of teens. Current sponsors include Blink and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. For more information on how to become a sponsor, please contact YALSA’s Executive Director, Beth Yoke at byoke@ala.org.  Authors can visit the Teen Read Week site for a list of ideas on how they can participate.

    For more information about Teen Read Week, visit the Teen Read Week website.

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    17. 2014 April PAD Challenge: Day 17

    Yesterday afternoon, I posted about the value of poetry (at least in my eyes). Spoiler alert: It’s more than just publication credits and rolling around in hundred dollar bills. In fact, it has nothing to do with either. Click here to check it out and share your thoughts

    .

    For today’s prompt, write a pop culture poem. I guess I broke out the Bon Jovi a day early, eh? But hey, write a poem about Bon Jovi or Van Halen; write a poem about the Kardashians (or don’t–and say you did); write a poem about a popular SNL skit; write a poem about Dr. Who or Downton Abbey; write a poem about any kind of popular culture thing-a-ma-bob you wish. In fact, write three! (Just kidding; you only need to write one poem–but seriously, write three and be sure to add a little more cowbell.)

    *****

    Workshop your poetry!

    Click here to learn more

    .

    *****

    Here’s my attempt at a Pop Culture Poem:

    “Much Ado”

    I wanted to write a poem on James
    Franco, but it turned out too obvious,
    because he writes his poetry the same
    as Jewel, and I’m not the fool who’ll discuss
    what is or is not good poetry. My
    poems have their own flaws and unspoken
    laws of engagement. Shia LaBeouf cried
    in his paper bag over Miley’s tongue–
    they’re both young, and I do not understand
    kids these days [or adults, for that matter
    (like I fell asleep and a complex strand
    of the '80s took hold--but it's sadder,
    more self-aware)]. I miss all the good times
    when poems were filled with funtastic rhymes.












    *****

    Today’s guest judge is…

    Mary Biddinger

    Mary Biddinger

    Mary Biddinger

    Mary is the author of multiple collections, including Saint Monica and O Holy Insurgency. Her collection A Sunny Place With Adequate Water

    is due out in May. She’s also the founder of Barn Owl Review.

    Mary has received two Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Awards in Creative Writing for her poetry: one in 2010, the other 2007.

    In addition to all this, she also edits the Akron Series in Poetry and the Akron Series in Contemporary Poetics for the University of Akron Press.

    Learn more here: http://www.marybiddinger.com/

    .

    *****

    PYHO_Small_200x200

    Poem Your Heart Out

    Poems, Prompts & Room to Add Your Own for the 2014 April PAD Challenge!

    Words Dance Publishing is offering 20% off pre-orders for the Poem Your Heart Out anthology until May 1st! If you’d like to learn a bit more about our vision for the book, when it will be published, among other details.

    Click to continue

    .

    *****

    Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems

    . He writes by the motto: When in doubt, write a sonnet. Learn more about Robert here: http://www.robertleebrewer.com/.

    *****

    Get more than pop culture here:

    .
  • What Is the Value of Poetry
  • ?
  • Heather Bell: Poet Interview
  • .

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    18. Rock the Drop TODAY!

     

    Support Teen Literature Day and Operation Teen Book Drop are underway! Sending our love to YALSA, YA authors, the publishing industry, teachers, librarians, booksellers, and rgz around the world. Special thanks to our 2014, sponsors, iheartdaily and Justine Magazine!

    Here's the drill:
    1. Find a YA book to donate.
    2. Print the bookplate below and paste it in your book.
    3. Leave the book in a public place to be found.
    4. Snap a pic or post a message about how you Rocked the Drop on our facebook or twitter. #rockthedrop

     
    Keep up the celebration by checking out these 7 philanthropies. It is rgz' 7 year anniversary after all!
     
     
    The Operation Teen Book Drop party is on, so join in! Get out there and rock the world with YA lit!
     
    ~the readergirlz divas

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    19. Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same! by Grace Lin

    Ling and Ting are twins. They have the same hair, same smile and same eyes, but don’t let those similarities fool you – they are not exactly the same. Ling likes books about dogs, but Ting loves fairytales. Ling struggles with using chopsticks, while Ting finds chopsticks to be very easy to use. Ling is very good at sitting still and concentrating, but Ting has a tendency to be a bit more fidgety and forgetful. Each chapter of this amusing episodic book tells a different story to illustrate just how not the same these two twins really are.

    Grace Lin manages to create adorable, relatable characters and place them into entertaining situations while maintaining a reading level appropriate for those who are still honing their reading skills. The cheerful, clear illustrations add charm to the story, provide helpful clues for decoding potential trouble words and, thanks to a mishap while at the barbershop in the first chapter, knowing which girl is Ling and which is Ting. Fans of Biscuit, Henry and Mudge, and the Elephant and Piggy books who are looking for a bit more of a challenge should definitely give Ling and Ting a try. If you like this one, make sure to read Ling and Ting Share a Birthday as well.

    Click here for a link to a book trailer on Grace Lin’s website for Ling and Ting.

    Posted by: Staci


    0 Comments on Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same! by Grace Lin as of 4/17/2014 12:07:00 PM
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    20. Prime Minister’s Questions

    By Andrew Dobson


    “Noisy and aggressive,” “childish,” “over the top,” “pointless.” These are just a few recent descriptions of Prime Minister’s Questions – the most watched event in the Parliamentary week.

    Public dismay at PMQs has led the Speaker, John Bercow, to consult with party leaders over reform.  The Hansard Society asked focus groups what they thought of PMQs as part of its annual look at public engagement. Nearly half said the event is “too noisy and aggressive”, the same proportion as those who felt that MPs behave unprofessionally. Meanwhile, a majority of 33% to 27% reported that it put them off politics. Only 12% said it made them “proud of our Parliament”.

    John Bercow. By Office of John Bercow CC-BY-SA-3.0

    Both the Deputy Prime Minister Clegg and Labour leader Ed Miliband agreed that the baying and screeching gave politics and politicians a bad name, and while Prime Minister David Cameron was a little more guarded, he too thought that Mr Bercow’s ideas were interesting and worth looking at.

    So would it help if politicians listened to each other little bit more and shouted at each other a little bit less? The fact that PMQs is simultaneously the most watched and the least respected Parliamentary event is significant. No doubt we watch it precisely because we enjoy the barracking and the bawling, and there is always the possibility of grudging admiration for a smart bit of wordplay by one or other of the combatants. Parliamentary sketch writers nearly always judge the winner of PMQs on the basis of which of the party leaders has bested the other in terms of quips and ripostes – and very rarely on the basis of political substance.

    So it’s hardly an informative occasion. Indeed the Hansard’s respondents’ main gripes are that questions are scripted, and that there are too many planted questions and too few honest answers.

    Once again, though, maybe this misses the point. Some will say that the civilised and serious political work is done behind the scenes in committee rooms, where party loyalty is less obviously on display, and where considered debate often takes place. On this account, PMQs occupy a very small amount of parliamentary time, and anyway, the sometimes angry jousting that takes place between party leaders on Wednesdays is as much a part of politics as the polite exchange of views we find in Parliamentary committees. Where would politics be without disagreement? Would it be politics at all?

    But then there are different ways of disagreeing – and some ways could turn out to be exclusionary. One of the ideas floated by John Bercow was that the flight of women from the House of Commons was in part a result of the way in which debate is conducted there.

    David Cameron

    David Cameron. By World Economic Forum/Moritz Hager (Flickr) CC-BY-SA-2.0

    And it’s a fact that although good listening is much prized in daily conversation, it’s been almost completely ignored in the form of political conversation we know as democracy. While PMQs show that politicians aren’t always very good at listening to each other, they’re not much better at listening to the public either. Politicians instinctively know that listening in a democracy is vital to legitimacy. That’s why when they’re in trouble they reach for the listening card and initiate a “Big Conversation,” like the one Tony Blair started in late 2003, not so many months after the million people march against the Iraq war.

    But won’t a government that listens hard and changes its mind just be accused of that ultimate political crime, the U-turn? In 2012, the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, announced some radical changes in UK secondary school education, including a return to an older style assessment regime. Then in February 2013 he suddenly announced that the changes wouldn’t take place after all. Predictably, the Opposition spokesman called this a ‘humiliating climbdown’. Equally predictably, Gove’s supporters played the listening card for it was worth, with Nick Clegg saying effusively that, “There is no point having a consultation if you’ve already made up your mind what you’re going to do at the end of it.”

    So it looks as though, as far as listening goes, governments are damned if they do and damned if they don’t: accused of weakness if they change their mind and of pig-headedness and a failure to listen if they don’t. On balance, I’d rather have them listening more – both to each other and to us. John Dryzek is surely right to say that, “the most effective and insidious way to silence others in politics is a refusal to listen.”

    As the ancient Greek philosopher Epictetus says: “Nature hath given men and one tongue but two ears, that we may hear from others twice as much as we speak.”

    Andrew Dobson is Professor of Politics at Keele University, UK. His most recent book is Listening for Democracy: recognition, representation, reconciliation (OUP, 2014). He is a member of the England and Wales Green Party and he co-wrote the Green Party General Election Manifesto in 2010. He is a founder member of the thinktank Green House.

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    Image credit: John Bercow, by Office John Bercow, CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. (2) David Cameron, by World Economic Forum/Mortiz Hager (Flickr), CC-BY-SA-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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    21. Did we already know this, or did I just picture her as I read?

    5th waveFrom Screen Daily:

    Chloe Grace Moretz will star in the studio’s YA adaptation The 5th Wave that Graham King and Tobey Maguire are producing.

    Regardless, this news gives merit to my hypothesis that ChloMor, JLaw, and ShaiWood are currently the only actresses working in YA Hollywood.

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    22. What Do You Want to See Us Do Next?

    Via Crytal on Flickr


    Time to take stock guys! Here's your chance to say what features you like and what features you'd like to see us do more or less often. Unless we're absolutely perfect, would you let us know where you'd like to see us go? We are always trying to keep the site exciting and fresh for you guys, full of the most up to date information and best advice we can wrangle but we need your input! Go ahead and answer the poll, or if you don't want to do that, leave us suggestions in the comments!


    What would you like to see more or less of on the blog?
    Are you are reader, writer, or both?
    I want more giveaways
    More book posts
    More writing craft posts
    More author interviews
    More agent interviews
    More inspiration for writers
    More features for readers
    More agent judged contests
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    Other
    Please Specify:
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    With love and thanks from the AYAP Team!



    0 Comments on What Do You Want to See Us Do Next? as of 4/17/2014 7:41:00 AM
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    23. Bedouin Soundclash Frontman Releases First Chapter in Serial Multimedia Book Project

    skullandbonesCanadian musician Jay Malinowski has signed a multimedia serialized eBook deal with book deal with HarperCollins Canada.

    The Bedouin Soundclash frontman’s new work is called Skull & Bones. The work is comprised of seven digital chapters published one at a a time. The first chapter is called El Ingles Goes Missing. The book includes text, drawings and original songs from his band Jay Malinowski and The Deadcoast. The tracks are embedded into the multimedia chapters.

    “After finishing the recording of the album ‘Martel’ with my band The Deadcoast, I decided that I needed to walk The Camino, an 800km pilgrimage that starts in the foothills of France’s Pyrenees mountains and ends on the west coast of Spain, a coastline strangely enough called La Costa da Morte, or The Dead Coast,” Malinowski explained on his site. ”It was during those 40 days of walking alone that I began writing and roughly illustrating “Skulls & Bones” in the cafes at night and during breaks on the side of the seemingly endless path that led to the Atlantic Ocean. This was a personal labour of love.”

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    24. Creative ways to perform your music: tips for music students

    By Scott Huntington


    Many music students have difficulty finding new venues in which to perform. A lot of the time it’s because we let our school schedule our performances for us. We’ll start the semester and circle the dates on the calendars that include our concerts and recitals, and that will be it. That’s fine, and can keep you pretty busy, but I’m here to tell you to get out there and plan on your own. You’ll become much more confident and even perform better at your concerts once you get a few smaller gigs under your belt. Here’s a few tips to help you along the way:

    Don’t let nerves get in the way of gigging

    You’ve likely heard this from countless professors, teachers, friends, and family members, but everyone experiences nervousness. It’s the result of our animal instincts, our fight or flight response, and it’s natural. The solution is simply to gain experience. Think of each instance of nervousness as a new chance to conquer and control the sensation. After enough repetitions, nervousness will no longer seem like such a big deal, just an expected and regular part of performance. Nerves will probably never go completely away, but by the time you get to a huge concert you’ll be getting used to it.

    Develop your personal brand

    Whether you like it or not, self-advertising, or creating your own brand, has become more and more doable thanks to the Internet. Read up on creating a web presence. Unless you’re famous, you’re going to need to market your talents. Sites like BandCamp and SoundCloud tend to be synonymous with popular music, but this trend is slowly changing. In fact, many classical musicians are uploading recordings of their gigs to SoundCloud.

    On top of the benefits of a clean, easy to navigate repository of gig recordings, having a SoundCloud is like having a deluxe portfolio. What do I mean by “deluxe”? Well, it’s like having a resume with a built in audience of employers ready to look at it 24/7. And SoundCloud isn’t just a social network; it’s a social network of people who actively create and/or listen to music.

    Think outside the box when looking for gigs

    But where can you look for gigs? At first glance you’re at a slight disadvantage from all the rock bands that can play cover shows at bars or parties. Somehow playing solo clarinet music at the local bar just isn’t going to go over well. So, here are a few places you may not have thought of:

    1. University events

    Keep tabs on ongoing events at your university. Many students and faculty would love to have their events spiced up with some “sophisticated” music. There are plenty of fundraisers and galas that are always looking for entertainment. It even gives them a bragging point to have a student performing and could lead to more donations for the school.

    2. Elementary schools

    Music education is an important aspect of many children’s lives, and choosing an instrument to pick up can be quite a meaningful decision, even if it may seem superfluous to us at the time. Check with local elementary schools to find out when they start their students off in band and orchestra programs. They may very well be looking for people to come in and explain and play their instruments to students. You never know when you could be the one to inspire the next great performer.

    elementary school music

    Children from Kaneohe Elementary School clap to the beat of one of the many jazzy songs the US Marine Corps Forces Pacific Party Band played during their performance as part of the Music in the Schools program. Photo in the public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

    3.  Retirement communities

    Playing at a retirement community may not be very glamorous, but it will leave you with experience and the feeling that you’ve done a good service. One of the most rewarding times of my musical career was playing at a nursing home. A deaf woman rolled her wheelchair up to my marimba and put her hand on the side to feel the vibrations. Seeing her smile is something I will never forget. To me, this small gig was right up there with playing in Orchestra Hall in Chicago.

    4. Play for small businesses and company functions

    A gig at a barber shop didn’t give me a huge audience, but it’s not always the size that matters. Through it I was able to meet some people from a mattress store called Dr. Snooze, and eventually led to me getting to play at one of their open houses. I met several more people through it that led to even more performance opportunities, including corporate retreats and even a wedding. I can also use them as a reference when telling others about my music. It’s amazing how one “little” gig can turn into so much more.

    5. Play on the street

    Now you should look into the legality of this strategy before pursuing it, but playing in the street (even for no money) can be an incredible source of publicity. Who knows who might be looking? It also helps to strategically pick your location so that people who might be more likely to need musicians may listen. Another idea you could try would be to upload recordings of your performances to YouTube to be able to show them to others.

    Finnish bluegrass buskers in Helsinki, Finland. June 2006. Photo by Cory Doctorow from London, UK. Creative Commons License via Wikimedia Commons.

    Finnish bluegrass buskers in Helsinki, Finland. June 2006. Photo by Cory Doctorow from London, UK. Creative Commons License via Wikimedia Commons.

    All of these ideas will give you some great experience and help you become a better musician. And when you come to the bigger events, you’ll be well prepared.

     is a percussionist specializing in marimba. He’s also a writer, reporter and blogger. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and son and does Internet marketing for WebpageFX in Harrisburg. Scott strives to play music whenever and wherever possible. Follow him on Twitter at @SMHuntington.

    Oxford Music Online is the gateway offering users the ability to access and cross-search multiple music reference resources in one location. With Grove Music Online as its cornerstone, Oxford Music Online also contains The Oxford Companion to Music, The Oxford Dictionary of Music, and The Encyclopedia of Popular Music.

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    The post Creative ways to perform your music: tips for music students appeared first on OUPblog.

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    25. A conversation with Craig Panner, Associate Editorial Director of Medicine Books

    Few fields develop as rapidly as medicine, with new breakthroughs in research, tools, and techniques happening everyday. This presents an interesting challenge for many medical publishers — trying to get the latest information to students, practitioners, and researchers as quickly and accurately as possible. So we are delighted to present a Q&A with Associate Editorial Director of Medicine Books, Craig Panner. Craig began his career at Oxford University Press eight years ago, and currently works across Oxford University Press’s medicine titles. In the interview below, Craig talks not only about his role, but also the medical publishing landscape in general, both past and future.

    Could you tell us about your position as Associate Editorial Director?

    My role is something of an interdepartmental liaison between the Medicine UK office and the psychology and social work group here at Oxford University Press. Collectively, we all work very closely together and when you have departments on both sides of the Atlantic, I think it is imperative to maintain and promote open lines of communication which is what I strive to do on a daily basis. Additionally, as Associate Editorial Director, I am also the commissioning editor for neurology and neuroscience, a role which I not only love, but I think helps keep me connected to, and informed about, what the other commissioning editors encounter on a daily basis.

    In your experience, what are some of the challenges of transitioning medical books to an online environment?

    Work in the computer lab by MCPearson CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

    Work in the computer lab by MCPearson. CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

    I think one of the biggest challenges is that everyone has ideas of what they want, what functionality they expect, and how to be able to use that material. But like many things, we can’t please everyone so it becomes a matter of identifying the greatest common need and how to meet those requirements. Another large challenge is that the online environment is a constantly moving target, if you will: new functionalities are introduced, the “it” product is rolled out, and other similar bells and whistles are discovered and customers often want that too. But when we’re talking about a platform product like Oxford Medicine Online and the huge amount of data that is available, it’s often too difficult to demonstrate why instant changes can’t be incorporated.

    What was the state of medical publishing when you began your career vs. how it is done now?

    When I started in the publishing world (as a proofreader) back in 1992, everything was print. I remember when the company received its first apple computer: it was kept in an open office and you had to sign up to book time to use it. And, oddly, it was never in use: everyone was more comfortable using the mimeograph machine and the typewriters by their desk. But, in about the next five or six years, the online explosion happened and journals suddenly became available electronically, first via consortia only, then as individual subscriptions, and then individual articles.

    Could you discuss Oxford’s relationship with the Mayo Clinic, and how it has grown or changed over the years?

    Mayo Clinic is the largest integrated, not-for-profit group practice in the world, with nearly 4000 physicians and scientists at their three primary sites in Minnesota, Florida, and Arizona. And given that Oxford University Press is the largest and oldest university press in the world, it seemed like a natural fit for the two organizations to work together. For almost five years now, Mayo Clinic and Oxford University Press have continued to work together to create, prepare, and disseminate medical reference works that any practicing clinician, anywhere in the world, would find useful for their continued professional development. When we first began working together, the Mayo Clinic Scientific Press series of books was predominantly print. But with the launch of Oxford Medicine Online, and the subsequent development of the Oxford eLearning Platform, the Mayo titles now have the added functionality of utilizing the questions and answers that accompany many of the Mayo Clinic Board Review books for a truly interactive experience that more fully prepares doctors preparing to take their board exam, as well as doctors maintaining their certification, in a real time environment.

    What are some of the greatest challenges of medical publishing?

    Everyone is busy and everyone works more than a 40-hour week. Finding the time to develop and undertake, much less publish, a medical text is a real juggling act. Thankfully, with the history of Oxford University Press and the quality publications that we produce, we are a trusted publishing house where authors and editors can go with confidence. Another challenge in medical publishing is the time that it takes to produce a work. Not only does it take a fair amount of time to develop, to write or collate chapters, and to deliver the work, but in the old days, it would take a year to publish a book. Medical research and techniques move far more quickly than that time-frame would permit which is why the Medicine group now publishes works between 3.5 months to 5.5 months from receipt. All to better meet the needs of our readers.

    Where do you think medical publishing is headed in the future?

    I wish I knew! The electronic environment will obviously play a huge role for the rest of my career but given that it, literally, changes daily and the needs and expectations of our readers changes with it, it is impossible to guess where things are going. And that’s what makes publishing so much fun. I can say that I think that immediate access to point of care information, along with suggested secondary and tertiary information will become second nature. The online environment won’t do the thinking for the clinician, but it will certainly supplement their decision making and knowledge base far more completely than anything that we’ve had previously.

    How has the process of actually doing medical research changed over the years? In other words, how are people accessing the content then vs. now?

    Medical research has definitely changed over the years. When I first started out, clinicians and researchers had offices lined with books and journals, filing cabinets filled with journal reprints, and personal databases (for the electronically savvy) of key articles. Much of that is gone now and when you speak with a junior doc they will often say that everything they need is available to them electronically. Searching the web is obviously faster but the ability to utilize the web to link journals, books, databases, and the like has expanded the available knowledge base of today’s clinician, no matter where in the world they are located. And because of how we do research and how we follow up with patients, a doctor can now check up on, and advise upon, a patient from anywhere that they are traveling to. Geographic boundaries really no longer exist.

    How have extra online features, like multimedia, changed the way medical research is done?

    The various additional features that the online environment facilitates are amazingly useful in this busy world we live in. Not only do these extra features teach the reader on their own schedule, but these features can help facilitate the decision making process. If we are talking about videos that show two different, but somewhat similar, symptoms the multimedia material can help show, literally, how the two disorders are different. Likewise, being able to quickly reference additional material via a third party database–let’s say genotypes, for instance–you negate the need to stop what you’re doing, go to a book, a journal, or even the library but, instead, go directly to the source, find what you need, make the judgment and continue with your work. Medical research really is nothing like it was five years ago and will not be the same five years from now.

    Craig Panner is the Associate Editorial Director of Medicine Books, and works in Oxford’s New York office.

    Oxford Medicine Online is an interconnected collection of over 500 online medical resources which cover every stage in a medical career. Our aim is to ensure that the site delivers the highest quality Oxford content whilst meeting the requirements of the busy student, doctor, or health professional working in a digital world.

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    The post A conversation with Craig Panner, Associate Editorial Director of Medicine Books appeared first on OUPblog.

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