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26. Small Town Council in Poland Bans ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ From Playground

Winnie the Pooh 200The town council of Tuszyn, Poland have banned Winnie-the-Pooh from a local playground. The politicians who made this censorious decree first examined A.A. Milne’s famous bear when they were trying to appoint a famous character as the face of this public space.

This group found Pooh’s lack of pants and questionable gender to be offensive and “wholly inappropriate for children.” All four Winnie-the-Pooh short story collections feature illustrations by artist E. H. Shepard; Shepard’s artwork consistently depicts Pooh not wearing pants.

Here’s more from the The Independent: “The meeting of officials was sneakily recorded a councillor and leaked to local press, according to The Croatian Times. One unnamed councillor can be heard discussing Pooh’s sexuality, arguing that ‘it doesn’t wear underpants because it doesn’t have a sex’ before another, Hanna Jachimska starts criticising Winnie the Pooh author AA Milne.” (via Jezebel)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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27. Thanks from the Depths


the whole alphabet
is somehow not enough
to express my thanks


Hello from the depths of a big freelance project—for which I am grateful, of course! Today I continue the Three Weeks of Thanks-Giving series, in which each Teaching Author is supposed to share three things she is grateful for. Like the others who posted before me, I tried, but I can’t limit it to three. So I’m sharing three categories.


People: my dear husband Gene, our strong, determined, and healthy (!) sons, my mom and my sisters, my cousins, my writing companions: my wonderful VCFA classmates the Hive, my writing group (How is it that we’ve never given ourselves a name?), the amazing current and former fellow Teaching Authors (and the readers who make our posting so rewarding), my Poetry Friday pals who inspire me even though many of us have not met yet, editors who respond with thoughtful comments even when they reject my work, teachers and students, writers everywhere who share their joys and woes, plus anyone who works for justice, anyone who tries to save the planet and its inhabitants, and anyone who tries and tries and tries again

Places: home with all its connotations (warmth, respite, a place to put my feet up), Lake Michigan, wilderness wherever it still exists

Things: sunshine, opportunities, courage, even (or especially) when it’s borrowed, reliable transportation that enables us to visit family and see a bit more of the wide, wonderful world, and the Internet, which makes worldwide communication possible--along with travel directions, weather reports, and planning for family reunions (Yea, cousins!)

That’s all I can think of for now, although another thing or two will surely pop up as soon as I click “Publish.” As in years past, we also invite you, our readers (and your students), to join in by sharing your own thanks with us in one of three ways:

  • Comment on any of our blog posts through Nov. 28.
  • Send them via email to teachingauthors [at] gmail [dot] com, with “Thanks-Giving” as the subject. We might share some of your comments in our posts.
  • Post them on your own blog and then share the link with us via a comment or email. (Feel free to include the Three Weeks image in your post.) On November 28, Carmela will provide a roundup of all the links we receive.

Don’t forget about our CWIM Giveaway! You can enter until November 28.

Today’s Poetry Friday Roundup is at Tapestry of Words. Enjoy! And happy Thanksgiving, from the depths of my heart!
xox,
JoAnn Early Macken


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28. ABA to Take On the Operations of the ABFFE

abfe logoThe American Booksellers Association (ABA) will handle the operations of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE).

Here’s more from the press release: “As was the case when the Association of Booksellers for Children (ABC) voted to become part of ABA in 2010 as the ABC Children’s Group, ABFFE will become a distinct group within ABA, the American Booksellers for Free Expression Group at ABA (ABFE), beginning January 1. The ABFFE board will be reconstituted as the ABFE Advisory Council.”

According to this new agreement, ABFFE President Chris Finan will be appointed group director for the ABFE. The ABA has designated all of its members as official supporters of the ABFE. Every single indie bookstore with an ABA membership will receive a sticker advocating for free speech and a subscription to a new monthly newsletter called “Free Speech Report.”

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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29. Singer Mary Lambert Performs Slam Poetry

Many people may not know that Mary Lambert, the singer featured on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ hit trackSame Love,” is an award-winning spoken word poet. The video embedded above features Lambert performing a slam poetry piece called “Pistol Whip.” What do you think?

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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30. Martha Brockbrough Shares The Scoop on The Writers' Roundtable Intensive

Check out this very informative post, The Benefits of A Writers' Roundtable, by author and team blog member Martha Brockenbrough. In it, Martha tells us about the Writers Roundtable Intensive at the upcoming 2015 SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City, February 6-8.



In addition to sharing what happened to her four years ago at the roundtable, Martha is now the intensive's moderator, and shares her thoughts on how to maximize this remarkable opportunity.

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

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31. Cynsational News & Giveaways

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

A Trio of Trailblazing Performers by Joy Fleishhacker from School Library Journal. Peek: "Introducing three African American women born in the early 20th century, these noteworthy picture book biographies resound with compelling storytelling, expressive artwork, and a sonorous message about overcoming obstacles and following one’s dreams."

Selling on Proposal AKA The Dreaded Synopsis by Gretchen McNeil from Adventures in YA Publishing. Peek: "It’s a double-edged sword, of course. While you’ve managed to charm an editor and publisher with your synopsis and/or pages, you still have to deliver a final manuscript on or before a due date, and the pressure of scheduling your creativity can be crippling."

How to Choreograph a Great Action Scene by Darcy Pattison from Fiction Notes. Peek: "It’s not just movement, but conflict made concrete. Movement across a scene without a purpose is just the beat of a scene and action implies much more."

Should Book Reviews Mention Characters' Race? by Roger Sutton from The Horn Book. Peek: "...we are always trying to figure out where and how to mention ethnicity, especially in reviewing books in which skin color plays a part only in the illustrations and goes unmentioned in the text." See also Writing More Diverse Characters: the Third Culture Individual from Tu Books.

Rejecting Rejection: Terror Days by Amy Rose Capetta from The Writing Barn. Peek: "The first two books I wrote have a straight main character. The projects I kept coming up with after that? Besides being in a different genre, the main characters were queer. And I had a thousand worries attack me all at once."

Librarian's Corner: Vicky Lorencen on Playing With Words from Ann Jacobus at ReaderKidz. Peek: "Without formally saying so, Grandma taught me that words weren’t just for communicating, they’re also for enjoyment. I was encouraged to play with words."

Manuscripts on Submission 101 by Jennifer Laughran from Jennifer Represents... Peek: "If I get an offer, or a request for revision, of course I share it immediately. The same goes for a really kind/complimentary or otherwise uplifting decline."

Positive and Negative Character Motivation by Mary Kole from Kidlit.com. Peek: "We often react to adversity by stubbornly wanting to best it. But it’s important to note that this is a reaction to something negative in life that we’re inspired to overcome."

Character Skills and Talents Astrological Divination by Angela Ackerman from Writers Helping Writers. Peek: "A character who has studied astrology extensively can chart an individual’s celestial path by using the date and hour of their birth."

Everything I Need to Know About Character I Learned from Buffy by Dave King from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "Even his darkest characters have balancing characteristics that make them interesting and often redeemable – the Scooby Gang has included at times two vampires and a demon. D’Hoffryn, for instance, though a Lower Being and Lord of the Vengeance Demons, is always unfailingly polite."

The Point of Writing by Meg Rosoff from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "Truth is what will give your work resonance and power and make it worth reading long after you’ve spent the money that someone may or may not have paid you for your work."

Bibliotherapy for Teens: Helpful Tips & Recommended Mental-Health Themed Fiction by Erin E. Moulton from School Library Journal. Peek: "While mental illness is clearly prevalent, a stigma persists. A recent article in Time, prompted by the suicide of actor Robin Williams, estimated that about 60 percent of those suffering from mental illness don’t seek assistance. Reading is not a replacement for professional therapy. But surely, the right books can help." See also Books to Celebrate and Teach About Adoption by Jill Eisenberg from Lee and Low.

Scholastic Picture Book Award: "...a joint initiative between the National Book Development Council of Singapore (NDBCS) and Scholastic Asia, and it is presented biennially to an outstanding unpublished picture book with distinct Asian themes by an Asian team of writer and illustrator." See also from SCBWI Japan Translation Group: "Entries of unpublished, Asian-themed picture books up to 500 words will be accepted until Dec. 19 at 5 p.m. Singapore time. Picture book text must be in English, but works in languages other than English may be considered, if an English translation is submitted with the original text and illustrations."

What Do You Have to Do Online? Authors Have Surprising Freedom by Darcy Pattison from Fiction Notes. Peek: "Do you like to write short, write long, take/edit photos, produce audio, or produce video? Those are the only options you have, regardless of the platform. Think about which form of communication you are good at, and can consistently produce."

Starving in the Midst of Plenty by Teri Lesesne from The Goddess of YA Literature. Peek: "I will return from the conference with a suitcase packed with books (or I will be mailing a ton of them). They will float on to other hands as soon as they are read. But I am a trifle embarrassed by these riches."

The Stakes Should Always Be Death by Maureen McQueery from Teaching Authors. Peek: "For the reader to be concerned, risk has to be real and the protagonists' motivation worthy. Worthy motivations involve noble concepts like: forgiveness, love, redemption, self-worth."

National Book Award


Congratulations to Jacqueline Woodson, winner of the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, for Brown Girl Dreaming (Nancy Paulsen Books)! Don't miss coverage of Brown Girl Dreaming from NPR and How This Year's National Book Awards Could Change the Face of Children's Literature by K.T. Horning from The Conversation.



We Need Diverse Books

The initial $100,000 goal for We Need Diverse Books has been met--hooray! And thank you! But the campaign is ongoing and the organization has announced our stretch goals. Peek:

"Once we’ve reached our first stretch goal, WNDB will be able to create a paid internship program to help interns from diverse backgrounds (as noted in our mission statement) who demonstrate financial need. We hope our grants will allow people who might not otherwise be able to achieve their dream of a career in publishing. We will also be able to fund a year-long mentorship program for multiple writers....

"We will expand our outreach and create more educational kits and educational materials to be used to discuss diversity in all its ways and forms. And we'll offer travel grants, to help currently-published authors attend conferences and events that would otherwise not be accessible to them.

"Finally, we plan develop a WNDB app. The WNDB app goes beyond recommendations and looks for new interactive ways to support diverse authors and books. With it, WNDB is excited to create a new high-tech way to bring diverse books to you, the reader."

Note: Daniel Handler (AKA Lemony Snicket), after apologizing and describing his comments with regard to Jacqueline Woodson at the National Book Awards as "monstrously inappropriate, and yes, racist" has donated $10,000 and will be matching donations today up to $100,000. (Jackie is on our advisory board.)

Marketing Diverse Children's Books by Matia Burnett from Publishers Weekly. Peek: "Rodriguez also witnessed a parent refuse to purchase her daughter a copy of My Friend Maya Loves to Dance by Cheryl Willis Hudson, illustrated by Velasquez (Abrams), which is about an African-American ballerina. Regardless of the skin color of the main character in the story, Rodriguez said of the girl who was so drawn toward the book: 'She too was a ballerina. That’s all she saw.'"

See also Lindsey Lane on Why We Need Diverse Books. Peek: "We are trying to understand what it means to write diverse characters if we are white. How do we do it? Can we do it? Are we allowed? How can we contribute to the We Need Diverse Books campaign?'" Note: a heartfelt, respectful contribution to the conversation.

Cynsational Giveaways

Jingle Dancer Interior Image.

The winner of Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little is Jen in Texas. The winner of Ship of Dolls by Shirley Parenteau is Akiko in Texas. The winners of What Flowers Remember by Shannon Wierbitzky are Donna in New Jersey and Frances in Illinois.

This Week at Cynsations

More Personally

Where Are the Characters of Color in Science Fiction & Fantasy? panel at YALSA Symposium in Austin.

With authors Justina Chen, Janet Wong & Lorie Ann Grover at the Hyatt Regency Austin.
Thank you to Mighty Girl for highlighting my picture book Jingle Dancer (HarperCollins, 2000)!

Link of the Week: Four Mistakes Made in Children's Books About Natives and Books That Fix Them by Debbie Reese from Indian Country Today.

Even More Personally

In the holiday spirit with Greg Leitich Smith at Whole Foods!
Personal Links


Cynsational Events

Cynthia Leitich Smith will speak at the American Library Association MidWinter Convention in Chicago from Jan. 30 to Feb. 3. Details TBA.

Now Available!
Coming Soon!
The SCBWI Austin 2015 Writers and Illustrators Working Conference will take place March 7 and March 8 at Marriott Austin South. Note: Cynthia Leitich Smith will be moderating a panel and offering both critiques and consultations.

Cynthia Leitich Smith will serve as the master class faculty for the VCFA Alumni Mini-Residency from June 19 to 21.

Cynthia Leitich Smith will speak on a We Need Diverse Books panel at the 2015 Annual Conference of the American Library Association from June 25 to June 30 in San Francisco. 

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32. TEEN SPIRIT by Francesca Lia Block

I'll start with this: I think Francesca Lia Block likes Indians.

I'm just not sure what she knows about us. I kinda think she doesn't know a Native person.

By that, I mean one who is on-the-ground Native, as in living on the reservation, or hanging with the Native community in whatever city or suburb they're in, or, if they're in a part of the country where there is not a Native community, then, one who goes home to that community and/or talks to people from there a lot.

That on-the-ground identity is in stark contrast to the person who has a family story where a great great ancestor was Native. This group tends to romanticize who Native people are, and it comes out in dreadful ways. Case in point: mystical Indians. With powers.

Let's talk about Francesca Lia Block's Teen Spirit. I'll start with the synopsis (pasted here from Amazon):

Francesca Lia Block, critically acclaimed author of Weetzie Bat, brings this eerie and redemptive ghost story to life with her signature, poetic prose. It's perfect for fans of supernatural stories with a touch of romance like the Beautiful Creatures series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

After Julie's grandmother passes away, she is forced to move across town to the not-so-fancy end of Beverly Hills and start over at a new school. The only silver lining to the perpetual dark cloud that seems to be following her? Clark—a die-hard fan ofBuffy and all things Joss Whedon, who is just as awkward and damaged as she is. Her kindred spirit.

When the two try to contact Julie's grandmother with a Ouija board, they make contact with a different spirit altogether. The real kind. And this ghost will do whatever it takes to come back to the world of the living.

Francesca Lia Block's latest young adult novel is a haunting work about family, loss, love, and redemption.

Block has tons of fans. You can go to Goodreads and read all the things people like about her book. I'm giving you my view on what she does with Native content.

In the first chapter, Julie is with her grandma. First clue that you gotta pay attention to is that her grandma is wearing "Native American turquoise" (p. 13). That's fine. I hope it was the real thing, though, made by a Native person.

Hitting the pause button: did you know it is against the law to sell something as though it is Native if it isn't? Go read the text of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990. My best guess, given what Block did in the Weetzie Bat books and in Teen Spirit, is that she doesn't know about that law because she doesn't know much about us at all. Somehow, I think that she has some image in her head, some super cool image of who she thinks we are, and that is what shapes what she does when she writes us into her books.

Back to Teen Spirit.

Julie is living with her grandma and her mom. But, alas, Julie's grandma dies suddenly. Right there in front of her. As she is dying, she tells Julie she has something to tell her but doesn't get it out. Looking at her lifeless body, Julie sees "a pale lavender radiance" (p. 14) hovering over her body and she hears some "baroque and strange, otherworldly" music playing, too. She doesn't tell her mom about it. With grandma dead, there's other things to worry about.

As that chapter closes, we learn about Julie's dad. She never met him. Julie was an in vitro baby. All her mom told her about him is (p. 18):
"that he was over six feet tall, full-blooded Cherokee, and had a master's degree in psychology."
And that he was a sperm donor.

Let's hit that pause button again. That bit of info raised all kinds of questions for me that I kinda doubt even occurred to Block. I went to a donor site online to see what I might learn. I wondered, for example, how they know a person is "full blooded Cherokee" or "Blackfoot." On one site, a chat window popped up immediately. I asked my "how do you know" question and they answer was that it is self-reported. I asked about tribal ID and learned they don't ask for it. Those questions matter, in light of another law (that I'm guessing Block doesn't know about): the Indian Child Welfare Act. It was passed in 1978, to keep Native children within Native communities. I could do some research to see if there have been any cases in which a sperm donor sought information about his child and how that would play out in a courtroom. But, I'll set that aside and get back to Teen Spirit. 

Why did Block go with a "full blooded Cherokee" sperm donor? Asking that question makes me think that maybe she knows that claiming a great great Cherokee grandma wouldn't cut it. If she has Julie's dad be Cherokee, for real, does that mean we're to believe that Julie's ability to see those lights around her grandma are legitimized by the sperm donor? Scary thought! Scary because it isn't any better. It is STILL mystical Indian stuff that does not work.

In the next chapters, Julie and her mom move across town, she gets a job in a dress shop that sells vintage clothes, and she meets a guy named Clark (his aura is green) at her new school. She also finds a Ouija board in the dresser drawer in her new room. She is intrigued by it, wondering if she can use it to talk with her grandma. Clark is freaked by it. Later, she meets another guy. His name is Grant (his aura is red), and though he tells her he is Clark's twin, we're going to learn that Grant IS Clark's twin, but that he died a year ago and that his spirit has entered Clark and takes over Clark's body from time to time.

So. Julie finds a card that a lady at an occult store had given her, to a place in Chinatown called Black Jade. Julie and Clark go there and learn from the lady there that Julie is "an intuitive" and that she probably got that gift from her dad. She gives them some treatments and tells them to see Tatiana Gonzales to get rose petals they need for a tea she wants them to use.

They call Tatiana Gonzales and then go to her house. There, they see milagros embedded in the outer adobe walls of her house. Tatiana greets them (her aura is indigo). She has powers, too (of course). She's petite, black curls "adorned with fresh gardenias and cascading to her minuscule waist" (p. 151). She tells Julia that her ability to see auras can be developed with practice.

Back at her house, Julia picks up a book with a poem by Emily Dickinson. She'd been reading aloud from it to her grandmother when she died. A piece of paper falls out of it. It is an advertisement for a store called Ed Rainwater Designs. It sells figures carved of bone, dream catchers, jewelry, and sage. Since sage is one of the things that they need, Julie and Clark go to that store (p. 166):
When we walk in we see an extravagantly tall man in sunglasses, sitting on a stool behind a counter. At his side was a three-legged dog that resembled a coyote. Both of them shone with almost blinding white light in spit of the dimness of the room.
They tell him they need sage for a ritual. He asks them (p. 167):
"Looking for some kicks? Some native enlightenment?"
Julie replies:
"No, sir," I said. "With all respect, we take this seriously. And even though I don't know anything about it, I'm half Cherokee."
Ed looks them over and then takes them out back. He gives them some special sage he grows and tells her to burn it, and that she'll know when the time to do that is right. Like the others, he tells her to develop her skills. Clark asks if he means the ability to see the auras, and Ed replies:
"More than that. Your friend has a gift that can magnetize certain spirits."
Enter another character! Amrita (her aura is metallic gold). She has very long black hair, wears a bunch of gold bracelets, and looks (p. 70):
"like a Hindu goddess statue. I wouldn't have have been surprised if she was hiding a few extra arms behind her back."
A Hindu goddess. Are you groaning? Or shaking your head? Or your fist, perhaps?! Ed and Amrita invite Julie and Clark to stay for dinner. Amrita teaches Julie how to meditate and then it is time for a sweat.

Pause button! I gotta get up and walk around a bit. Shake off some of this nonsense.

.....

Back.

Inside, Ed pours water on rocks that are on top of coals. They sweat. Ed prays. They come out feeling great (sigh).

Things eventually get resolved for both, Julie and Clark. And of course, they figure out that Ed is her father. She thinks she'll go visit him sometime. For now, she's gonna explore her relationship with Clark.

THE END

I hope that is the end. I hope Block isn't going to go from this to a book where Julie's "powers" are more developed. My overall sense is that Block is really taken with "other." She likes not-white peoples. She's put them in this book and in Weetzie Bat, too. People obviously love her writing. I wish she'd stay away from this kind of writing, though.

In a twitter exchange earlier this month, she apologized for the problems I described in Weetzie Bat. I thought it was a sincere apology, but she didn't say a word about Teen Spirit. I wish she would. Without addressing it, her apology rings very hollow. Very hollow, indeed.

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33. A brief history of the e-cigarette

Electronic cigarettes are growing in popularity around the world. With the announcement of vape as our Word of the Year, we have put together a timeline of the history of e-cigarettes.

1963
Herbert A. Gilbert patents a non-tobacco cigarette that heats a nicotine solution and produced steam, but it is never manufactured.

1979
Dr. Norman Jacobson, one of the pioneers of the word “vaping,” develops the Favor cigarette, a way to inhale nicotine with no smoke.

2003
Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik first develops an electronic alternative to traditional cigarettes.

2004
The first e-cigarettes, a Chinese invention, comes from the Ruyan company.

2007
E-cigarettes enter the US market.

February 2012
Nicotine and Tobacco Research publishes a study, entitled “Electronic Cigarettes: Effective Nicotine Delivery After Acute Administration,” which explores nicotine intake with different electronic cigarette devices.

June 2013
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency will regulate e-cigarettes as medicines from 2016 when new European tobacco laws come into force.

December 2013
Nicotine and Tobacco Research publishes a study, entitled “Secondhand Exposure to Vapors From Electronic Cigarettes.” It reveals that “using an e-cigarette in indoor environments may involuntarily expose non-users to nicotine, but not to toxic tobacco-specific combustion products.”

Different types of electronic cigarettes by TBEC Review. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.
Different types of electronic cigarettes by TBEC Review. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.

December 2013
World leading tobacco experts argue that a recently published World Health Organization (WHO)-commissioned review of evidence on e-cigarettes contains important errors, misinterpretations, and misrepresentations, putting policy-makers and the public in danger of foregoing the potential public health benefits of e-cigarettes.”

September 2013
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urges the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to “issue a rule to regulate all tobacco products, including cigars, little cigars, e-cigarettes and others.”

15 January 2014
The Chicago City Council voted to regulate electronic cigarettes the same as traditional cigarettes,  which “prohibits the use of e-cigarettes in public places, requires stores selling them to keep them behind the counter, and prohibits their sale to minors.”

26 January 2014
The UK bans e-cigarettes for people under 18.

February 2014
The European Parliament approves regulations on e-cigarettes. “Beginning in mid-2016, advertising for e-cigarettes would be banned in the 28 nations of the European Union, as it already is for ordinary tobacco products. E-cigarettes would also be required to carry graphic health warnings and must be childproof. The amount of nicotine would be limited to 20 milligrams per milliliter, similar to ordinary cigarettes.”

March 2014
Journal of Psychiatric Research reports on e-cigarette use within different age groups and finds that “a notable proportion of adolescents and young adults who never smoked cigarettes had ever-used e-cigarettes. E-cigarette use was not consistently associated with attempting to quit tobacco among young adults. Adults most often reported e-cigarettes as a substitute for tobacco, although not always to quit. Reviewed studies showed a somewhat different pattern of e-cigarette use among young people (new e-cigarette users who had never used tobacco) versus adults (former or current tobacco users).”

14 April 2014
A US congressional report surveys the marketing tactics of e-cigarette companies, which directs sales towards youth, and calls on the FDA to set regulations for e-cigarette marketing.

24 April 2014
The FDA proposes regulations on e-cigarettes, which gives them authority over e-cigarettes and expands its’ authority over tobacco products. The AAP still urges the FDA to protect young people from the effects of e-cigarettes.

April 2014
A proposal from the FDA requires  e-cigarettes to “undergo an agency review,” which would ban e-cigarette sales to minors and require e-cigarettes to have warning labels.

April 2014
The AAP releases a statement on the dangers of e-cigarette poisoning in children.

4 May 2014
The AAP surveyed a random sample of adults, and according to the research presented, “the vast majority of young adults who have used the devices believe they are less harmful than regular cigarettes…”

12 May 2014
Tobacco Control BMJ releases a study on e-cigarette use and individuals with mental health conditions.

May 2014
A study for Nicotine and Tobacco Research finds that the vapors from e-cigarettes contain “toxic and carcinogenic carbonyl compounds,” and the amount of formaldehyde in the vapors is similar to the amount reported in tobacco smoke.

2 June 2014
A study titled “Exposure to Electronic Cigarette Television Advertisements Among Youth and Young Adults”, found that “exposure of young people ages 12 to 17 to e-cigarette ads on TV increased 256% from 2011 to 2013. Young adult (ages 18 to 24) exposure increased 321% over the same period.”

25 June 2014
The White House alters the wording of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tobacco regulations, allowing the online sale of e-cigarettes.

26 June 2014
The British Medical Association (BMA) calls to ban e-cigarette use in public. Doctors and medical students decide that e-cigarettes may lead to nicotine addiction.

July 2014
The BBC bans the use of e-cigarettes in all its offices and studios.

August 2014
A study from Nicotine and Tobacco Research states that “there is a risk of thirdhand exposure to nicotine from e-cigarettes,” although the exposure levels differ depending on the brand of the devices used.

August 2014
A study from Nicotine and Tobacco Research states that “in 2013, over a quarter million never-smoking youth had used e-cigarettes. E-cigarette use was associated with increased intentions to smoke cigarettes.”

24 August 2014
The American Heart Association (AHA) calls on the FDA for more research on e-cigarettes, to apply the same regulations on e-cigarettes as tobacco and nicotine products, and to create new regulations to prevent access, sale, and marketing to youth.

26 August 2014
A World Health Organization (WHO) report states that e-cigarettes need regulation to “impede e-cigarette promotion to non-smokers and young people; minimize potential health risks to e-cigarette users and nonusers; prohibit unproven health claims about e-cigarettes; and protect existing tobacco control efforts from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry.”

The WHO reports that “governments should ban the use of electronic cigarettes in public places and outlaw tactics to lure young users.”

4 September 2014
The New England Journal of Medicine’s findings state that “like conventional cigarettes, electronic cigarettes may function as a ‘gateway drug’ that can prime the brain to be more receptive to harder drugs.”

October 2014
A study for Nicotine and Tobacco Research states that “over 75% of US adults reported uncertainty or disapproval of the use of e-cigarettes in smoke-free areas. Current cigarette smokers, adults aware or have ever used e-cigarettes were more supportive to exempting e-cigarettes from smoking restrictions.”

Headline image credit: Vaping an electronic cigarette by Jon Williams. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.

The post A brief history of the e-cigarette appeared first on OUPblog.

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34. New James Patterson Children’s Book Inspires Animated Web Series

Collective Digital Studio will develop a five-part animated web series inspired by James Patterson’s forthcoming book, House of Robots. The story follows a fifth grader named Sammy and his robot named E (which stands for “Error”).

Here’s more from the press release: “It was never easy for Sammy Hayes-Rodriguez to fit in, so he is less than thrilled when his genius mom insists he brings her newest invention to school: a walking, talking robot he calls E—for ‘Error.’  The web series brings to life several scenes from the book as Sammy discovers the amazing secret E holds that could change him and his family forever…if all goes well on the trial run!”

The video embedded above features the House of Robots book trailer. The first episode will debut on the FЯED YouTube channel on November 28th. Each subsequent installment will be posted on Fridays.

Chris Grabenstein, Patterson’s collaborator for the I, Funny and Treasure Hunters series, served as the co-author for House of RobotsJuliana Neufeld, the artist behind the Treasure Hunters series, created the illustrations for this new project. Little Brown Books for Young Readers will publish the book on November 24th.

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35. Queen Elizabeth's Little House - A Dean's cut-out story book.


Tucked away from view in the south side of the gardens of Windsor’s Royal Lodge stands a miniature thatched cottage called Y Bwthyn Bach, or The Little House. This delightful book published sometime in the nineteen fifties contains all the pieces necessary to build your own little house.


The house was presented to Princess Elizabeth and her sister Margaret in March 1932 on behalf of ‘the people of Wales’ on the occasion of Elizabeth’s sixth birthday.  The princesses spent many hours cleaning their tiny home and Elizabeth developed a reputation for being very neat and tidy. Over the years, the Queen’s children and grandchildren have also played in the house, and it has recently been completely refurbished.


The dining room with white panelled walls a Welsh dresser with an array of beautiful china and a grandfather clock ticking slowly in the corner. A picture of the Queen Mother hangs over the mantelpiece and there is even a bookcase filled with Beatrix Potter’s little books to ensure the girls never grow bored.


A corner of the garden



No home is complete without a pet (or two)



and a fairy at the bottom of the garden



Ring the front-door bell and step into the sweetest little house you ever saw!

The Royal Family pay a visit the little house c1932.
via



The back cover of the book showing the finished model.



Complete and in near perfect condition with just slight wear to edges of front cover Queen Elizabeth's Little House contains a build-it-yourself cardboard recreation of Y Bwthyn Bach, The Little House at Royal Lodge.  The book is undated, but I assume it was published at the time of the Queens Coronation in 1953. Arthur Groom tells the story of the building and presenting of the little house.












Thanks for calling in, I hope you enjoyed visiting the little house.

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36. Music and Movement at the Library

This past summer, the Fayetteville Free Library (FFL) offered several new early literacy programs targeted at improving family health and nutrition. Perhaps the most popular of these were our “Music and Movement” programs for infants through preschoolers. We know that music and movement are important at every stage of a child’s development, and can be made applicable for children who are at different stages. We were especially interested in creating new ways to engage families with babies and toddlers, and this series provided a fun, dynamic way to do that. In fact, libraries are well positioned to provide access to music and movement opportunities for children. As children’s librarians we already sing, clap, and engage in dramatic play through action rhymes in our storytimes. And while there might be other businesses that offer these types of programs, we found that they are often expensive and cost prohibitive to some families. I don’t claim to be a music educator, but I do think that, as librarians, we can instill in children a love of music in much the same way that we encourage a love of reading.

So why is it important to offer a music and movement program? Research shows that “movement education is basic physical education that emphasizes fundamental motor skills and concepts such as body and spatial awareness, but that it is also a philosophy of physical education in that it is success-oriented, child-centered, and non-competitive”  (Pica, emphasis mine). We also know that childhood obesity rates in American are at an all time high. Music and movement programs not only aid a child’s physical development, they help children “feel good about their movement abilities, [thus] they are more likely to make physical activity part of their lives” (Pica). An active lifestyle is essential for a child’s overall physical fitness and health.

Benefits to Movement

  • There are many obvious physical benefits to movement, including cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and body composition.
  • Children need 60 minutes of play with moderate to vigorous activity every day to grow up to a healthy weight (letsmove.gov).
  • Movement also has social and emotional benefits, as it helps children unleash creativity through physical expression like dance. Certain games and activities can also teach them cooperation and help them work together with peers and adults.
  • Finally, movement also helps children develop cognitively; “studies have proven that they especially acquire knowledge experientially–through play, experimentation, exploration, and discovery.  Though a developmentally appropriate movement program, instructors can help nurture the bodily/kinesthetic intelligence possessed in varying degrees, by all children” (Pica).

Benefits of Music

  • Music is vital to the development of language and listening skills. We know from Every Child Read to Read that singing is an important early literacy practice, and is a key way children learn about language.
  • Music’s melody and rhythmic patterns help develop memory, which is why it’s easier to remember song lyrics than prose text. This is why we learn our ABC’s in a song.
  • Music engages the brain, stimulating neural pathways that are associated with higher forms of intelligence such as empathy and mathematics. (National Association for Music Education)
  • Music and language arts both consist of symbols and ideas; when the two are used in combination, abstract concepts become more concrete and are therefore easier for children to grasp. (National Association for Music Education)

Program Plan

MusicMovementblurred2Hopefully, now you’re convinced and wondering how to implement a Music and Movement program of your own. Chances are you already have most of the ingredients! I used a combination of acapella singing and children’s CDs for the music. I then broke the 30-45 minute program down into different activities and skills, for example, exploring up and down/ stretching and jumping; clapping and rhythm; clapping/singing and tempo; etc. Many of the songs and rhymes I used to correspond to these activities are familiar and beloved: “Pop Goes the Weasel” for jumping, “If You’re Happy and You Know It” for clapping, “Row Your Boat” for rhythm. For each song we sang as a group, I also played a song from the CDs. Other favorites included stop and go, or statue games. Children dance and move until the music stops and then have to freeze in place! Playing “statue” develops listening skills and helps children distinguish between sound and silence. It also helps them practice self control, starting, and stopping. “Stop and Go” by Greg & Steve and “Bodies 1-2-3” by Peter & Ellen Allard are perfect songs for this activity, but you can really use any song and then manually stop the music unexpectedly!  

In the second half of the program, we explore an instrument. Shakers and bells are perfect for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, and rhythm sticks are fun for older groups. There are tons of great shaking songs, including “Shake Your Sillies Out” by Raffi, “Shake, Rattle & Rock” by Greg & Steve, “Shaky, Shaky” by the Wiggles. “Frere Jacques” is a classic if you’re using bells. If you can’t afford a large set of instruments, you can also make your own and explore the sounds of common household items. I sometimes intersperse this half MusicMovementBlurredof the program with movement activities like jumping jacks and toe touches. Finally, we end with the parachute activities. We bought a 12’ parachute for $25-30 and a smaller 6’ one for use with the babies and toddlers. Not only are the parachutes endlessly entertain to children of all ages, they have a myriad of uses and promote teamwork and coordination. If you have bean bags, small balls, or a beach ball to add, even better.

Our Music and Movement Program at the Fayetteville Free Library was wildly successful with 40-50 attendees at each session. It was the perfect way for us to reach families with young children of all ages and support family health and an active lifestyle at the same time. Do you offer a music and movement program at your library? Tell us about it in the comments!

Resources for Music and Movement Education

  1. Pica, R., & Pica, R. (2010). Experiences in movement & music: Birth to age 8. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.
  2. Early Childhood Music and Movement Association
  3. LetsMove.gov
  4. National Association for Music Education

(Photos courtesy guest blogger)

*****************************************************************************************

Stephanie Prato is a member of the ALSC Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee. She is the Director of Play to Learn Services at the Fayetteville Free Library in NY. If you have any questions, email her at sprato@fflib.org.

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37. CLOSED TO QUERIES 11-21 to 1-12

Hi gang,

I have a lot of travel + bookstore stuff + general busy-ness going on in the next six weeks, so as I do every holiday season, I am officially CLOSING TO QUERIES as of tonight (say, midnight eastern time) -- and I'll re-open January 12, 2015.

The exceptions being Referrals and Conference submissions.  If you are either of these, I urge you to SAY SO IN THE SUBJECT LINE. I will also, of course, look at material that I've explicitly asked to see.

This gives me the opportunity to catch up and clear out for the new year, and it is much needed. And you may well hear from me during this break, as I have a LOT to catch up on! ;-) Anything already IN the inbox before tonight will be responded to. All other new queries will be deleted.

So, what to do? Well, if you want to choose any of the other lovely agents at ABLA who are open, you may of course feel free to do so -- if you'd prefer to query me specifically, please do so today, or wait until January.

Let me know if anything is unclear! And have a great holiday season.

Jenn


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38. Is Hello Kitty a Cat or a Girl? And Does it Matter? News from the 1st ever Hello Kitty Con!

Is she a girl or a cat? This question about iconic Japanese character Hello Kitty was hot on the Internet not long ago, but the thousands of fans of all ages who attended the sold-out first-ever Hello Kitty Convention in Los Angeles over Halloween weekend were unconcerned with the answer. Instead, they were indulging in an overload of “kawaii,” the Japanese word for “cute”, as Hello Kitty mania took over Los Angeles.

If you’ve never attended a fan convention (or “con,” as they are known among insiders), it’s a must-do for anyone interested in popular culture and the many characters who live in our imagination. Children in particular are drawn to familiar characters, as any children’s librarian can attest. Sanrio’s Hello Kitty is especially popular among patrons young and old alike at my library, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to get up close and personal with her at the convention.

Hello Kitty Apple

Hello Kitty Apple

As a blogger, I snagged an invitation to a super-exclusive press preview and elegant VIP party the night before the “con” opened officially to the public. This was a special delight for me as not only was I able to see the exhibits without the sold-out crowds of the convention, but we even got swag bags filled with exclusive Hello Kitty goodies (these included an actual apple with a Hello Kitty logo in an elegant box with a gold ribbon–an inside joke for Hello Kitty fans, since Hello Kitty is described as five apples tall and weighing as much as three apples).

As you might guess, a retrospective of Hello Kitty merchandise from her 40-year career was on display, including the original Hello Kitty coin purse, the first item manufactured, which was on display for the first time in the U.S. Normally kept in a vault in Japan, the tiny purse was exhibited in a special darkened room where it was shown as proudly as the crown jewels! A huge reproduction was also on display for photo ops.

There were many special opportunities for fans, including free Hello Kitty tattoos designed especially for the con–the real kind for adults, although the stick-ons for kids were also available. The tattoos were in such demand that fans had to line up at 5 a.m. to get a spot. FashionOther highlights included an incredible high fashion installation curated by Stephiee Nguyen of JapanLA clothing, with one-of-a-kind creations by 13 designers from all over the world, special workshops with designers such as Paul Frank where fans could learn Hello Kitty-themed jewelry making, nail art, scrapbooking, and other crafts, and of course lots of exclusive shopping with merchandise available only at the convention. Fans waited in line over five hours for a chance to spend money at the special Sanrio pop-up store, although a Super Supermarket with other exclusives from Sanrio licensees offered slightly shorter lines (Hello Kitty SPAM, anyone? Or how about Hello Kitty headphones from Dr. Dre?)

booksLibrarians and booklovers were not ignored, since the Super Supermarket included representatives from Viz Media’s  Perfect Square imprint. Viz is one of several publishers who produce high quality Hello Kitty books suitable for the library market. Currently five volumes are available in their Hello Kitty graphic novel series; this suitably adorable series is wordless, and thus suitable for pre-readers as well as older children who can use these graphic novels to develop their own narrative skills by imagining the stories through the images. Perfect Square was also promoting a new release, Hello Kitty, Hello 40: a Celebration in 40 Stories, in which a variety of authors and illustrators pay tribute through stories and art.

As at other conventions, fans could attend an array of panels with Hello Kitty experts, including one with Hello Kitty head designer Yuko Yamaguchi. Although Hello Kitty was created “to inspire happiness, friendship, and sharing across the world,” she was initially a minor–i.e. not very profitable–character at Sanrio. It was not until Ms. Yamaguchi took over her design in 1980 that she increased in popularity until she became the #1 character in Japan. Ms. Yamaguchi’s aspirations for Hello Kitty do not stop there, as she would like to see her become the #1 character world-wide. As to whether she’s a cat or a girl, Ms. Yamaguchi replied that she didn’t understand what all the fuss is about. “She’s not a cat and she’s not a human,” she responded. “What’s Mickey Mouse? I don’t think he’s a mouse…Hello Kitty is Hello Kitty and it’s my wish to continue to nurture her as a very special brand.” (you can read more of Hello Kitty’s back story here ).

It is clear from the enormous response to Hello Kitty con that, whatever she is, this deceptively simple and widely marketed character has a very special place in the hearts of both children and adults. I don’t doubt that Hello Kitty will be around for many years to come.

(All photos courtesy guest blogger)

******************************************************************

Margo Tanenbaum receives a hug from the famous Kitty

Margo Tanenbaum receives a hug from the famous Kitty

Our guest blogger today is Margo Tanenbaum. Margo is a children’s librarian in the Los Angeles area.  She blogs about children’s books at The Fourth Musketeer and is co-curator of Kidlit Celebrates Women’s History Month, a group blog with posts published in March.  

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

 

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39. Pick of the Week for THEATRE and This Week’s Topic

macbeth_lrg1

Happy Friday!

We’re excited to announce this week’s topic, but first please enjoy the illustration above by Stephanie Dalton Cowan, our Pick of the Week for last week’s topic of ‘PAPER’. Thanks to everyone else for participating. We hope it was inspiring!

You can also see a gallery of all the other entries here.

And of course, you can now participate in this week’s topic:

SLOW

Here’s how:

Step 1: Illustrate your interpretation of the current week’s topic (always viewable on the homepage).

Step 2: Post your image onto your blog / flickr / facebook, etc.

Step 3: Come back to Illustration Friday and submit your illustration (see big “Submit your illustration” button on the homepage).

Step 4: Your illustration will then be added to the participant gallery where it will be viewable along with everyone else’s from the IF community!

Also be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter and subscribe to our weekly email newsletter to keep up with our exciting community updates!

HAPPY ILLUSTRATING!

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40. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Nimit Malavia

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66_cvc01janewarriorsoflovetypenimitmalavia65_edc02steelseraglioremnimitmalavia

malavia-Remus-and-Romulus81_edc04abelincolnvampirehuntergreatcalamitynimitmalavia

73_edp01divinationsandbutterfliesnimitmalavia

71_edc01canadianwildlifenimitmalavia

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64_cvd01fables142nimitmalaviaFables-145-preview

64_cvd01fables139nimitmalavia67_cvc01vcstepsofkrakadornimitmalavia

82_edc03shopifybettertobethestormthantheseainstallnimitmalavia

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DC/Vertigo’s long running title Fables has been a showcase for some of the top illustrators working in comics, today. One of the shining stars to contribute covers to the series(as well as a recent interior story) is artist Nimit Malavia. His dynamic yet delicate illustrations portray a strong sense of mood/color existing in a deep field of depth. While looking at them, you literally feel like you could fall into the page(or screen, if you prefer digital)!

Nimit’s work graces the walls of Shopify’s offices(as pictured above), and he’s done commercial work for high profile clients like 20th Century Fox, DC, and Marvel Comics, just to name a few.

Iam8bit in Los Angeles, CA is currently featuring Nimit’s art, along with 39 other artists, for a show called Sequel, where artists create movie poster art for imaginary sequels(Cowboy Bebop:The Movie was Nimit’s contribution).

You can explore more of Nimit Malavia’s art, and keep up with the latest news on his website here.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com - Andy Yates

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41. Ellen DeGeneres Inks Deal With Grand Central Publishing

EllenTalk show host Ellen DeGeneres (pictured, via) has landed a deal with Grand Central Publishing to write a book about interior design.

According to the press release, “DeGeneres, who has bought and renovated over a dozen properties, most recently launched a line of home goods on QVC and will launch Ellen’s Design Challenge, a new show on HGTV, in January of 2015.” Home will be released in Fall 2015.

Deb Futter, the editor-in-chief of hardcovers at the imprint, negotiated the deal with Esther Newberg, a literary agent of ICM Partners. Karen Murgolo, editorial director of Grand Central Life & Style, will edit the manuscript.

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42. NaNoWriMo Tip #15: Consult Cheat Sheets

blue color

NaNoWriMo participants can use all the help they can get! That’s why we encourage consulting with cheat sheets—check out these three links:

(1) Author’s Craft cheat sheet from the Hello Literacy blog (via Shannon Ford’s pinterest board)

(2) The Hero’s Journey map from Storyboard That

(3) Ingrid Sundberg’s Color Thesaurus

This is our fifteenth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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43. Understanding placebo effects: how rituals affect the brain and the body

In a typical prehistoric scene, say in 4000 BC, a wounded warrior is dragged to the shaman tent. The respected shaman takes a look at the wound and assures the warrior that he will be healed with the proper prayers and ritual dances. He then prepares a strong-smelling mixture of herbs and seeds, and as the whole tribe chants rhythmically around the campfire, he carefully applies it to the wound, all the while uttering incomprehensible sentences passed on to him by a venerable line of ancestral shamans.

Now let’s come to more recent times, say in 2010 AD. A wounded soldier is carried to the military hospital. The medical staff completes a physical examination. A CT scan to rule out internal lesions is carried out to the reassuring buzz of the most recent technology, and a respected clinician wearing a spotless white coat reassures the soldier that he will be healed with the proper drugs and physiotherapy.

Gillray_-_Treatment_with_tractors
A quack treating a patient with Perkins Patent Tractors by James Gillray, 1801. This remedy was used to illustrate the power of the placebo effect. James Gillray, 1801. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Across the divide of millennia, what do these two pictures have in common? The ritual of the medical and therapeutic act. Shamans of the past and clinicians of today share instinctual knowledge that the context surrounding a therapy is an important part of the therapy itself. Rituals have changed and adapted to the contemporary world, but they are still here. In spite of the huge time span across human history, contexts help both ancient and modern patients to develop trust and expectation that they will eventually regain their health.

Placebo effects work in this way too. Giving a placebo consists of essentially delivering a context without the substance. It is a wrapping devoid of content. Yet, the empty box itself acts subtly on the patient’s mind, just as an active drug would do, activating or silencing synapses, altering neurotransmitter content in specific brain areas, and modifying brain activity in ways that are today amenable to scientific inquiry. Placebos are not only the archetypal sugar pills but can be anything with the power to impact on the patient’s expectations. Placebos are made of words, symbols, rituals, meanings. What is important is not really the tool used, but the changes it triggers in neural activity, and how these changes ultimately affect psychological and bodily functions.

Within this framework, today we are witnessing an epochal transition in the medical paradigm, whereby general concepts, such as suggestibility and power of mind, can now be described in terms of a true biology of placebo effects and doctor-patient interaction. Thanks to modern scientific tools, important questions have been addressed and partially answered, such as psychological and emotional influences on symptoms, diseases, and responses to therapies.

The main concept that is emerging today is that placebos, words, therapeutic rituals and patients’ expectations modulate the same biochemical pathways that are affected by the drugs used in routine medical practice. As a matter of fact, this statement should be reversed. It would be more appropriate to say that drugs use the same biochemical pathways of rituals. In fact, rituals were born long before drugs.

Rituals heal but they can also kill. Nocebo effects are the evil twins of placebo effects, the negative consequence of negative rituals and contexts that induce distrust and hopelessness. These can be triggered by a variety of contexts in non-western societies, such as voodoo, and in western society, such as exaggerated health warnings in the media. A social contagion of negative expectations can spread across people very quickly, sometimes inducing worrisome mass phenomena.

Placebo effects are all of these things. The crucial point, and indeed the big revolution, is that today we can study these phenomena, once the domain of psychology, sociology and anthropology, with the tools of the modern biomedical paradigm. These biological tools involve cellular and molecular accuracy, with rituals and contexts interpreted in terms of specific brain regions and biochemical pathways, thus eliminating the old dichotomy between biology and psychology.

Heading image courtesy of Fabrizio Benedetti. Do not use without permission.

 

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44. Fassbinder's Lili Marleen


I attended a screening of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's 1980 film Lili Marleen at the Fassbinder: Romantic Anarchist series at Lincoln Center last weekend, and it was an extraordinary experience. This is one of Fassbinder's weirdest and in some ways most problematic films, a movie for which he had a relatively giant budget and got lots of publicity, but which has since become among the most hard-to-find Fassbinder films (which is really saying something!). Despite a lot of searching, I didn't come upon a reasonably-priced copy of it until I recently discovered an Australian DVD (seemingly out of print now) that was a library discard.

The story of Lili Marleen is relatively simple, and is very loosely based on the wartime experiences of Lale Andersen, whose performance of the title song was immensely popular, and whose book Der Himmel hat viele Farben is credited in the film. A mildly talented Berlin cabaret singer named Willie (Hannah Schygulla) falls in love with a Jewish musician named Robert (Giancarlo Giannini), whose father (Mel Ferrer) is head of a powerful resistance organization based in Switzerland, and who does not approve of the love affair or Robert's proposal of marriage. A Nazi officer (Karl Heinz von Hassel) hears Willie perform one night, is captivated by her, and guides her into recording the song "Lili Marleen", which unexpectedly becomes a song beloved of all soldiers everywhere on Earth. Willie becomes a rich and famous star, summoned even by Hitler himself, while Robert continues to work for the resistance and ends up marrying someone else. By the end of the war, Robert is a great musician and conductor and Willie seems mostly forgotten, many of her friends dead or imprisoned, and Robert lost to her. She had no convictions aside from her love of Robert, but that love was not enough. (I should note here that there are interesting overlaps between the film and Kurt Vonnegut's great novel Mother Night. But that's a topic for another day...)

I was surprised to find that Lincoln Center was using the German dub of the film rather than the English-language original (it was a multinational production, so English was the lingua franca, and, given the dominance of English-language film, presumably made it easier to market). It was interesting to see Lili Marleen in German, but unfortunately the print did not come subtitled, and so Lincoln Center added subtitles by apparently having someone click on prepared blocks of text. The effect was bizarre: not only were the subtitles sometimes too light to read, but they were often off from what the actors were saying, and when the subtitler would get behind, they would simply click through whole paragraphs of text to catch up. My German's not great, but I was familiar with the film and can pick up enough German to know what was going on and where the subtitles belonged, but I missed plenty of details. The effect was to render the film more dreamlike and far less coherent in terms of plot and character relations than it actually is. Not a bad experience, though, as it heightened a lot of the effects Fassbinder seemed to be going for.

Afterward, I said to my companion, "That was like watching an anti-Nazi movie made in the style of Nazi movies." I'd vaguely had a similar feeling when I first watched the DVD, but it wasn't so vivid for me as when we watched the German version with terrible subtitling — my first experience of Nazi films was of unsubtitled 16mm prints and videotapes my WWII-obsessed father watched when I was a kid.





When I got home, I started looking through some of the critical writings on the film, and came across Laura J. Heins's contribution to A Companion to Rainer Werner Fassbinder: "Two Kinds of Excess: Fassbinder and Veit Harlan", which interestingly compares Lili Marleen to the aesthetics of one of the most prominent of Nazi filmmakers (and a relative-by-marriage of Stanley Kubrick).

Lili Marleen was controversial when it was released, not only because it is probably Fassbinder's most over-the-top melodrama, a film that defies both the expectations of good taste and of mainstream storytelling, but also because it arrived at a time when what Susan Sontag dubbed (in February 1975) "fascinating fascism" was on the wane (The Damned was 1969, Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS was October 1975, as if to bring everything Sontag described to an absurd climax) while interest in earnest representations of the Nazis and the Holocaust was on the rise (Holocaust 1978, The Tin Drum 1979, The Last Metro 1980, Playing for Time 1980, Mephisto 1981, Sophie's Choice 1982, The Winds of War 1983, etc.). Lili Marleen is much closer to The Damned (a film Fassbinder loved) in its effect than to the films with similar subject matter released in the years around it, and so its contrast from the prevailing aesthetic regime was stark, leading to what seems to have been in some critics utter revulsion. It's notable that Mephisto, a film with very similar themes* and a significantly different aesthetic, could win an Oscar, but though Germany submitted Lili Marleen to the Academy, it was not nominated — and I'd bet few people were surprised it was not.

Even though it exudes the signs of a pop culture aesthetic, Lili Marleen can't actually be assimilated into the popular culture it was released into, partly because the aesthetic it's drawing from is passé and partly because it is deliberately at odds with conventional expectations. In a chapter on Lili Marleen in Fassbinder's Germany, Thomas Elsaesser writes that "coincidence and dramatic irony are presented as terrible anticlimaxes. With its asymmetries and non-equivalences, the film disturbs the formal closure of popular narrative, while still retaining all the elements of popular story-telling."



At the time of its release, there was much handwringing about the ability of works of art to create a desire or nostalgia for fascism in audiences, and Lili Marleen became Exhibit A. Heins quotes Brigitte Peucker: "One wonders whether, in Lili Marleen, Fassbinder’s parodistic style is not unrecognizable as parody to most spectators, and whether his central alienation effect, the song itself, does not instead run the danger of drawing us in." This is absurd. Fassbinder's style is parodistic, but it's also much more than that — it is multimodal in its excess — and I have about as much ability to imagine an audience member getting a good ol' nostalgic lump in the throat and tear in the eye while watching it as I have the ability to imagine someone watching Inglourious Bastards and mistaking it for Night and Fog.

Heins paraphrases Peucker as apparently thinking that "the often repeated title song may ultimately generate more sentimental affect than irritation". I can't believe that, either. For those of us who are not especially misty-eyed about the long lost days of the 1,000-year Reich, the song becomes as grating as it does for the character of Robert (Giancarlo Giannini), who gets locked in a cell with a couple lines of the song playing over and over and over again. What begins as sentimentality becomes, through repetition, torture.


The song is repeated so much that even if it doesn't irritate, it is stripped of meaning, and that's central to the point of the story, as Elsaesser describes:
When Willie says, "I only sing", she is not as politically naive or powerless as she may appear. Just as her love survives because she withdraws it from all possible objects and objectifications, so her song, through its very circularity, becomes impervious to the powers and structures in which it is implicated. Love and song are both, by the end of the film, empty signs. This is their strength, their saving grace, their redemptive innocence, allowing Fassbinder to acknowledge the degree to which his own film is inscribed within a system (of production, distribution and reception) already in place, waiting to be filled by an individual, who lends the enterprise the appearance of intentionality, design and desire for self-expression. 
One of the things I love about Lili Marleen is that its mode is utter and obvious kitsch, undeniable kitsch. It highlights the kitschiness not only of the Nazi aesthetic (which plenty of people have done, not least, though unintentionally, the Nazis themselves), but to some extent also of many movies about the Nazis. (I kept thinking of the awful TV mini-series Holocaust while watching it this time, and Elsaesser makes that connection as well.) We love to use the Nazis and the Holocaust for sentimental purposes, and representations of the Nazis and Holocaust often unintentionally veer off into poshlost. To intentionally do so is dangerous, even as critique, because it is too easy to fall into parody and render fascism as something absurd and ridiculous, but not insidious. The genius of Lili Marleen is that the insidiousness remains. It's what nags at us afterward, what lingers beneath the occasional laughter at the excess. There is a discomfort to this film, and it's not just the discomfort of undeniable parody — it is the discomfort of realizing how easily we can be drawn in to the structures being parodied: the suspense, the action, the breathless and improbable love story, the twists and turns, the pageantry, the displays of wealth and power. Our desires are easily teased, our expectations set like booby traps, and again and again those desires and expectations are frustrated and mercilessly mocked.


It's worth thinking about the place of anti-Semitism in Lili Marleen (and Fassbinder's work generally), because this was also part of the uproar over the film, an uproar that was really a continuity of the complaints about Fassbinder's extremely controversial play Garbage, the City, and Death. While not as brazenly playing with anti-Semitic imagery and language, Lili Marleen does give us a very powerful Jewish patriarch in Robert's father, played by Mel Ferrer, a character that can be seen in a variety of ways — certainly, he is an impediment to Robert and Willie's romance (clearly wanting his son to marry a nice Jewish girl), but I also think that Ferrer's performance gives him some warmth and grace that the Nazi characters lack. Nonetheless, while Lili Marleen is very obviously an anti-Nazi film, it's not so obviously an anti-anti-Semitic film (though there is a quick shot of a concentration camp, and Willie redeems herself by sneaking evidence of the camps out of Poland). Heins writes:
It cannot, of course, be concluded that the Absent One of all of Fassbinder’s films is The Jew, or that the sense of danger created by an unseen presence is racialized or nationalized, as it is in Harlan’s film [Jud Süss]. The malevolent other of Fassbinder’s films is more properly patriarchy and the police state, acting in the service of a repressive bourgeois order. In the case of Lili Marleen, however, we must conclude that Fassbinder did fail to effectively counteract the Harlanesque paranoid delusion of total Jewish power, if only because The Jew in this film is described as capitalist patriarchy’s main representative.
That point is astute, though for me it highlight the (sometimes dangerous) complexity of Lili Marleen: by employing certain features of Nazi storytelling, by putting clichés (aesthetic, narrative, political) at the center of his technique, and by seeking to wed this to the sort of anti-capitalist, anti-normative-family ideas common to his work from the beginning, Fassbinder ends up in a bind, one that forces him to trust that the various opposing forces render all the clichés hollow enough that performing and representing them does not give them new validity or justification — that the paranoia and delusion remain legible as paranoia and delusion. I think they do, but I feel less certain of that than the certainty I feel against the old accusations of glamourizing Nazism.

In addition to the title song, Lili Marleen includes an ostentatiously schmaltzy score by Fassbinder's frequent collaborator Peer Raben. It's schmaltzy, but also very sly — as Roger Hillman points out on the Australian DVD commentary, Raben includes brief homages to composers and works that the Nazis would not have looked fondly on, such as Saint-Saëns' Samson and Delilah. This technique is similar to the film's entire strategy: to booby-trap what on the surface is an overwrought deployment of old tropes.

Finally, a note on the acting: sticking with the concept of the film as a whole, the acting is generally a bit off: sometimes wooden, sometimes unconvincingly emotional. (It's acting a la Brecht via Sirk via Fassbinder.) The more I watch it, though, the more taken I am by Hannah Schygulla's performance. On the surface, it's an appropriately "bad" performance, one redolent of the acting style of melodramas in general and Nazi melodramas in particular. And yet Schygulla's great achievement is to find nuance within that — hers is not a parodic performance, though it easily could have veered into that. Instead, while abiding by the terms of melodramatic acting, it also gives us a transformation: Willie starts out awkward, not particularly talented, a sort of country bumpkin ... and she becomes a poised, distant, sculpted icon ... and then a refugee from all she has ever known and loved. There's still a sense of possibility at the end, though, and one Schygulla's performance is vital for: a sense that Willie may reinvent herself, may find, in this newly ruined world, a path toward new life.

Elsaesser suggests that Lili Marleen can be seen within the context of some of the other films Fassbinder made around it:
the three films of the BRD trilogy — shot out of sequence — are held together by the possibility that they form sequels. If we add the film that was made between Maria Braun and Lola, namely Lili Marleen which clearly has key themes in common with the trilogy, then Lili Marleen's status in the series might be that of a "prequel" chronologically: 1938-1946 Lili Marleen, 1945-1954 Maria Braun, 1956 Veronika Voss, 1957 Lola. Four women, four love stories, four ambiguous gestures of complicity and resistance.
It could be a tagline for so many of Fassbinder's films, not the least Lili Marleen: Ambiguous gestures of complicity and resistance. For a world entering the era of Thatcher, Kohl, and (especially) Reagan, Lili Marleen was a most appropriate foil.



-------------------
*In one scene of Fassbinder's film, Willie looks through a magazine and we quickly glance a picture of Gustaf Gründgens as Mephistopheles.

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45. Hey indie ebook authors, here’s how to succeed

Smashwords

Smashwords

Attention, indie ebook authors. Mark Coker at Smashwords wants you to know that there’s never been a better time to be you. He writes, “Thanks to an ever-growing global market for your ebooks, your books are a couple clicks away from over one billion potential readers on smart phones, tablets and e-readers. In the world of ebooks, the playing field is tilted to the indie author’s advantage.”

Then, the wake-up call. Coker goes on to report that “the gravy train of exponential sales growth is over,” with indie (self-published) authors seeing “significant” sales decline at Amazon, especially since the July launch of Kindle Unlimited. He had predicted the slowdown and attributes it to the glut of high-quality low-cost ebooks, the increasing rate of ebook supply outpacing demand, and the slowing, much-discussed transition from print to ebooks.

However, all is not lost. He offers tips on how to succeed in this new ebook environment. You’ll want to see his entire piece at Smashwords, as space constraints require editing them down. Here is a short take on Mark Coker’s 20:

1. Take the long view; focus on aggressive platform building.
2. Good isn’t good enough. Are you bringing your best game?
3. Write more, publish more, get better.
4. Diversify your distribution.
5. Network with other indie authors.
6. Publish and promote multi-author box set collaborations; you can build your base.
7. Leverage professional publishing tools, like preorder, to your advantage.
8. Best practices; there are seven, and Mark gives a good summary in his blog. Your fellow indie authors pioneered these practices, so listen up.
9. You’re running a business: be nice, ethical, honest, and humble. It pays.
10. Pinch your pennies; practice expense control.
11. Manage your time.
12. Take risks, experiment, and fail often.
13. Dream big dreams; aim high. Salvador Dali said: “Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.”
14. Be delusional.
15. Embrace your doubters.
16. Celebrate your fellow authors’ success. Their success is your success.
17. Remember that past success is no guarantee of your future success.
18. Never quit.
19. Own your future.
20. Know that your writing is important.

I’ll just repeat that last one: Know that your writing is important.

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46. Frankly: The 2014 Frankfurt, Germany International Book Fair by Irene Smalls

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Irene Smalls

In the middle ages, Gutenberg invented the printing press not far from where the Frankfurt Book Fair opens every year to about 7,300 exhibitors from more than 100 countries, around 275,000 visitors, more than 3,700 events, 9,000 journalists and over 1,000 bloggers. In October, Irene Smalls was one of those exhibitors. Irene is a multi-publshed author and creater of Literacise.

Why the Frankfurt Book Fair
Think of a foreign country with 230 million children under the age of 16 most of who study English. That is China alone. The International book market is worth $108,000,000,000 and counting. For authors and illustrators interested in expanding their sales and market my advice is to Go Global! The first stop to expanding your book brand globally is The Frankfurt Book Fair located in Frankfurt, Germany. With so many countries represented, it is diversity at its best.

Globe staff photo David L. Ryan

Literacise

 

 

How US Authors and Illustrators Benefit
Frankfurt is the world’s largest and oldest book fair. Frankfurt is a rights fair. Publishers go to Frankfurt largely to buy and sell international translation rights to their titles. For authors and illustrators this is lucrative. With international translations, you can sell your book potentially 120 times and receive royalties from all of your deals. This can be separate and apart from any from US publishing contracts.

 

 

 

 

Her Personal Stake
Seeing this huge book market opportunity, I had asked my publisher many times if my books were being presented for international rights sales. Repeatedly, my editors at a major publishing house, told me that there was no interest in my books globally. I decided to find out for myself. Indeed, in Frankfurt, I found the major American Publishers do not bring diverse books. An editor from a large trade publisher in the US when asked about the lack of diverse books represented, responded in very huffy tones. “We never bring those books to Frankfurt.” When asked why, the editor said, “All they ever write about is slavery, civil rights or struggling. Nobody is interested in reading about that.” It is ironic at the most diverse book fair in the world American publishers showcase their lack of diversity.

2GoGlobalMarketing
In 2014, I formed 2GoGlobalMarketing. Its motto is “Take Your Message to the World.” With the assistance of two book professionals, publicity guru Ayanna Najuma and Art Director/illustrator Cathy Ann Johnson we showcased 35 books in our booth for five days. It was a whirlwind experience. We met thousands of people from all over the world. Ten countries expressed interest in our titles: Saudi Arabia, Brazil, South Africa, Italy, UK, Taiwan, Poland, Nigeria, Finland, and Sweden. I am in talks with a UK educational publisher about creating a UK school version of one of my books. I am also in talks with another publisher about creating songs based on my books. My work is not finished. I will follow up with two contacts. For the authors and illustrators we represented one author/illustrator had three publishers interested in her title, another author had a publisher interested in expanding her book and her creating a teacher’s editions for his Arabian country. Cathy Ann Johnson found a business partner in Italy. She is preparing the European launch of her Soul Amazing children’s books starting in Italy.

My Nana and Me

My Nana and Me

The Take Away
There were lessons learned. Frankfurt is an appointment driven fair. Frankfurt is different from others book fairs where buyers browse through booths. At those fairs, it is important to have a booth to display titles. A booth is not essential in Frankfurt. What is essential is having appointments. The first three days of the Frankfurt Book Fair is to the trade only. The last two days are open to the public. Frankfurt Book Fair appointments are set up starting in August for the October fair with the book scouts, agents and book buyers from all over the world.

African-American authors and illustrators are not taking advantage of the Frankfurt Book Fair opportunity. In 2014, I was the first African-American female to ever exhibit in the 66 years of the Frankfurt Book Fair. Go Global. The world is diverse whether American publishers like it or not. The diversity that is embraced is high quality story telling with fully rounded characters. Most countries of the world are not interested in American history. These countries are interested in their own history and their own historical figures that tell a universal story. Authors must tell a great story of love, hate, and passion filled laughter and the world will want to read your words.

Who Qualifies
You need to have foreign translations rights to your book at a minimum. But, it is best in negotiating your original contract to retain as many rights as possible such as audio rights, video rights, etc. Also, try to limit the time a publisher has control of those rights. For an example, I had no idea when I went to Frankfurt that I would meet a publisher who was interested in creating songs of my books. Since I control the audio rights, it was not a problem. In addition, if a publisher has not sold any of your rights within a few years it is highly unlikely they will ever sell those rights. By limiting the time a publisher controls your rights once those rights revert back you can sell them yourself.

Ir

What Happens Next

Our first time at the fair we do initial follow-up with the publishers expressing interest in one of the books we showcased. After that, it is up to the author to follow-up and seal the deal.

Not an Easy Sell
It is difficult to make appointments. Most are long standing relationships. Rights buyers set appointments with familiar people and companies. However, in the course of meeting people and chatting, 2GoGlobalMarketing was able to make appointments during the fair. I do not recommend this approach. It worked but we were not able to meet with the top buyers whose calendars were completely booked. The appointments are set up in 30-minute increments. If you miss your appointment, you have to wait until next year.

Lesson Learned
I do plan to return next year. We will start recruiting authors in March. I will not get a booth. This time I will focus just on getting appointments with key people.
Knowing Irene, her appointment book will be filled. She constantly pushes and champions other authors and illustrators. If you want your book represented in 2015, contact 2GoGlobal Marketing. Her schedule will fill fast.
Keep up with Irene on Facebook , follow her on Twitter @ismalls107, and email: info@2GoGlobalMarketing.com.

Posted by Gwendolyn Hooks


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47. Oxford Dictionaries Team Creates a ‘Word of the Year’ Infographic

Oxford DictionariesEarlier this week, the executives behind the Oxford Dictionaries announced that “vape” was chosen as the 2014 Word of the Year. With the popularity of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) on the rise, usage of this word has increased.

Over at the OxfordWords blog, the team posted an infographic to share “the history of vape and why we’ve chosen it for Word of the Year – as well as looking at previous winners of Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year over the past decade.” We’ve embedded the entire graphic after the jump for you to explore further.
(more…)

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48. Ivan Pavlov in 22 surprising facts

An iconic figure of 20th century science and culture, Ivan Pavlov is best known as a founding figure of behaviorism who trained dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell and offered a scientific approach to psychology that ignored the “subjective” world of the psyche itself.

While researching Ivan Pavlov: A Russian Life in Science, I discovered that these and other elements of the common images of Pavlov are incorrect. The following 22 facts and observations are a small window onto the life of a man whose work, life and values were much more complex and interesting than the iconic figure with whom we are so familiar.

  1. Pavlov didn’t use a bell, and for his real scientific purposes, couldn’t. English-speakers think he did because of a mistranslation of the Russian word for zvonok (buzzer) and because the behaviorists interpreted Pavlov in their own image for people in the U.S. and much of the West.
  2. He didn’t use the term and concept “conditioned reflex,” either – rather, “conditional,” and it makes a big difference. For him, the conditional reflex was not just a phenomenon, but a tool for exploring the animal and human psyche – “our consciousness and its torments.”
  3. Unlike the behaviorists, Pavlov believed that dogs (like people) had identifiable personalities, emotions, and thoughts that scientific psychology should address. “Essentially, only one thing in life is of real interest to us,” he declared: “our psychical experience.”
  4. As a youth, he identified worriedly with Dostoevsky’s Ivan Karamazov – fearing that his devotion to rationality might strip him of human morality and feelings – but also believed that science (especially physiology) might teach humans to be more reasonable and humane.
    Daniel P. Todes - Pavlov 2
    Ivan Pavlov. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
  5. Although one would expect that this investigator of reflexive reactions would think otherwise, he believed in free will.
  6. Pavlov was from a religious family and trained for the priesthood, but left seminary for science studies at St. Petersburg University. He pondered the relationship of science, religion, morality, and the human quest for certainty throughout his life. Although an atheist, he appreciated religion’s cultural value, protested its repression under the Bolsheviks, and supported financially the local church near his lab at Koltushi. (His wife was deeply religious and their apartment was full of icons.)
  7. Pavlov’s beloved mentor in college was fired as a result of student demonstrations against him as a Jew, a political conservative, and (most importantly) a hard grader. This was a great blow to Pavlov and left him on his own as he attempted to make a career.
  8. He first got a “real job” at age 41 – as a professor of pharmacology.
  9. He didn’t win his Nobel Prize (1904) for research on conditional reflexes, but rather for his studies of digestive physiology.
  10. He more than doubled the budget for his labs by bottling the gastric juice he drew from lab dogs and selling it as a remedy for dyspepsia. (A big hit, not just in Russia, but in France and Germany as well.
  11. Like Darwin, Pavlov believed that dogs had full-fledged thoughts, emotions and personalities. His lab dogs were given names that captured their personalities and were routinely described in lab notebooks as heroic or cowardly, smart or obtuse, weak or strong, good or bad workers, etc. Pavlov constantly interpreted his own biography and personality in terms of his experiments on dogs (and interpreted dogs according to what he thought he knew about himself and other people).
  12. He was famous for his explosive temper –“spontaneous morbid paroxysms,” as he put it. Students and coworkers all had their favorite stories about these vintage explosions. Afterwards, he would make his apologies and get on with his work.
  13. Pavlov was an art collector – with a massive collection of Russian realist art in his apartment. His best friends before 1917 were artists.
  14. To maintain a “balanced” organism, Pavlov spent three months every year at a dacha (summer home) where he avoided science entirely. A devotee of physical exercise, he spent these months gardening, bicycling, and playing gorodki (a Russian sport in which the players throw heavy wooden bats at formations of other heavy bats, trying to knock them down in as few throws as possible; Pavlov was a champion player even in his old age).
  15. He seriously contemplated leaving Russia after the Bolshevik seizure of power in 1917, but finally decided to stay. His Western colleagues helped him financially during the hungry years of civil war (1918 – 1921), but did not offer to support him as a scientist in the West: they thought that, at age 68, he was washed up – but the research on conditional reflexes that would make him an international icon continued full blast for another two decades.
  16. He corresponded with Communist leaders Nikolai Bukharin and Vyacheslav Molotov and was one of very few public critics of the Bolsheviks’ political repression, persecution of religion, and terror in the 1930s. He also praised the state for its great support of science and highly respected some of his Communist coworkers, who succeeded in changing his opinion about some important scientific issues.
  17. Publically always very confident, privately he suffered constantly from what he called his “Beast of Doubt” – his fear that the psyche would never yield its secrets to his research.
  18. Pavlov’s closest scientific collaborator for the last 20+ years of his life, Maria Petrova, was also his lover.
  19. During a trip to the U. S. in 1923 he was mugged and robbed of all his money in Grand Central Station, and wanted to go home “where it is safe,” but was convinced to stay and had a great visit.
  20. When the Communist state sent a political militant to purge his lab of political undesirables, Pavlov literally kicked him down the stairs and out of the building.
  21. When he died, Pavlov was working on two surprising manuscripts that he never completed: one on the relationship of science, Christianity, Communism, and the human search for morality and certainty; the other making an important change in his doctrine of conditional reflexes.
  22. According to Pavlov, the most terrible, frightening thing in life was uncertainty, unforeseen accidents (sluchainosti), against which people could turn to religion or – his choice – science.

How many of the above facts did you already know about the life of Ivan Pavlov?

Featured image: Pavlov, center, operates on a dog to create an isolated stomach or implant a permanent fistula. After the dog recovered, experiments began on an intact and relatively normal animal, which was a central feature of Pavlov’s scientific style. Courtesy of Wellcome Institute Library, London. Used with permission.

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49. Daniel Handler Contributes $10K to the We Need Diverse Books Crowdfunding Campaign

Daniel Handler 300Daniel Handler incited fury within the literary community for the offensive jokes he made at the recent National Book Awards ceremony. Handler, who served as the master of ceremonies, has publicly expressed remorse for those remarks and found a way to make amends.

Handler (pictured, via) revealed on Twitter that he plans to contribute $10,000 to the We Need Diverse Books Indiegogo campaign. For the next 24 hours, he will match whatever donations come in up to $100,000.

Below, we’ve collected all the tweets that make up Handler’s apology and announcement in a Storify post embedded below. What do you think? (via BuzzFeed)

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50. Preparing for Release Month by Kate Brauning

Today we welcome Kate Brauning to the blog to share a different type of craft article -- the rewards of doing the craft well.  Publication!  But with publication comes its own stress, and Kate is in a great position to tell us how to handle it as not only did her first novel, How We Fall, release this month, but she's also an editor with Entangled Publishing, guiding many other writers through their first release month and beyond.

Preparing for Release Month by Kate Brauning

Release month is almost always a hectic, stressful time for authors. As an editor, I’ve seen my clients go through it, and my first novel just released on the 11th, so I’m going through it myself! Especially with all the different opportunities and strategies available to authors now, it’s easy to get bogged down, worry about what you aren’t doing, stress over what you are doing, and lose the excitement of it altogether.

One thing seasoned authors kept telling me was that this one is special because it’s the first. Enjoy it.
Do something for yourself. Celebrate in market-smart ways, but also celebrate in personal, zero-stress ways.

One of the things I did to personally celebrate my release week was to go on a weekend writing retreat with my critique partners. It was so, so much fun, and a great stress relief. I planned as if my release day was 3 days earlier than it was, so 95% of what I needed to do, I already had done. I took very little work on the retreat with me. Also, it was tremendously good stress relief to not think about the launch and get back to actually writing that next book. And of course, my critique partners are the ones who have been through this with me, and getting to celebrate with them was so meaningful and just plain fun.

Aside from celebrating for yourself, authors can do a few simple things to prepare for a book release that will make that week and month a little less stressful.

image credit: thepenandinkblog.blogspot.com

Marketing:

Get started on major marketing elements as soon as possible. As soon as you have a book deal/decide to self-publish, (or even before) you can get started on these things:

1. Author photos. Many authors have a friend take a photo, but there’s a big difference between a snapshot and a professional headshot. If you know someone talented, that’s great and definitely take the less expensive route. But first, look at the author photos of major authors in your genre and aim for that kind of result. Author photos are a significant piece of your marketing, and a great photo helps you look like a professional, and it might end up on your book jacket. It can take several months to line up a photographer, schedule the session, and get your edited photos back, so do this ASAP. I was interviewed by my own photographer, Jenni O Photography, where I discussed what I looked for in my author photos, so check that out if you’re interested.

2. Author website. Every author needs a website, even if you don’t blog. A site where readers can see your book and read a bit about you is definitely something you need as an author. You can design it yourself, but if you don’t have experience and talent there, hire someone. Friends who will cut you a deal can work out well, but again, look at the sites of authors in your genre who are doing well. See what’s possible for professional, clean layouts and informative, interesting content. Decide what kind of site you want, and then hire someone who can do that. Your website is another major piece of marketing, so to me, it’s worth spending a little money to have a quality website. Design, revisions, and launching the site can take a long time, too, so get started right away.

3. Street team. Many authors assemble a street team from fans, friends, book bloggers, and fellow authors. Not everyone wants a street team, and it’s important to be grateful, courteous, and reasonable with your team members, but they can be a huge help. Many authors have street team members get the word out through book blasts, reviews, and social media, and they can help word about your book break out of your own circle of friends and fellow writers. Start building that street team immediately—you can start this as soon as you have a book deal. Keep in mind street team members need to be able to reach people you can’t, so look beyond friends and family members, though they can certainly be enthusiastic supporters, too. It’s also great to let your team earn some value for their work. I sent each of mine a welcome package with swag and an ARC, and prizes along the way. It has definitely paid off.

4. Think about your dedication and acknowledgements. A lot of writers take a long time to get these done because they mean so much to the author. These don’t have to wait until your editor asks for them, and waiting to do them until then can make edits even more hectic, so you can definitely start them early. At the very least, you can start a list of who you need to thank and what you need to thank them for—don’t lose track of those early beta readers. And keep in mind there are a lot of people behind the scenes at your publishing house who are working hard for your book. It’s not a bad idea to email to ask who has been working on it, so you can specifically thank people besides your editor and publicist.

5. Conferences. Talk to your editor and publicist (or figure out for yourself) what the plan is for appearances and conferences leading up to and after your book release. Early-bird pricing and promotional opportunities are a great reason to get started on this early, and if you know you have a conference during a certain week, it can be something you plan your other launch preparations around. That way you don’t have to cross conference days off an already-full schedule. Conferences, even just for the connections, are wonderful marketing. I’ve never been to a conference that hasn’t paid off well for my investment.

6. Launch Party. There are so many options here! An in-person party, an online Facebook or Twitter party, a bookstore signing as your party, etc. As far as I know, those are the three main models, and they all have pros and cons. Online parties can be impersonal, and I’ve seen a lot of online parties that are poorly attended, even though hundreds or even thousands of people were invited. Authors work hard on their launch parties to make them have fabulous content, but it is really hard to engage a crowd online for a long period of time. They tend to drop by, learn a bit about you and your book, play a game, and then move on. And that’s great if that’s how you want to reach your readers. In-person & bookstore launch parties can have the same drawbacks—a small crowd, and difficulty reaching new readers. They can also be expensive, depending on what you do, and they are limited to people within traveling distance. Of course, there are pros to both—reaching fans who can’t travel to you and lower costs for online parties, and more personal connections with in-person parties, etc. I did a blend of both, and hosted 9 other authors at a livestreamed book party, so readers could ask questions, see, hear, and interact with all 10 of us. The combined draw meant we had a large audience, and we discussed everything from publishing paths to movie adaptations. Can you blend models to limit cons? Release vlogs during an online party, for example, or host other authors to draw on combined platforms.

image credit: http://jasouders.blogspot.com

Launch Month:

Prepare for launch month events ahead of time. There are so many things authors can do: book blasts, blog tours, book giveaways, book hunts, library appearances, book signings, etc. Debut authors are often encouraged to say yes to much of it, but that can lead to stress and burn-out, and it can take a toll on that next book you need to be writing. So here’s how to keep it manageable:

1. My advice is immediately start researching the opportunities and identifying your goals.

  • What’s possible? Realistically—what will you have time and money for? Can you re-prioritize to change any of that? What are your boundaries?
  • What sounds fun? Ideas you’re enthusiastic about will feel like less work than ones you’re already dreading, and they’re more likely to get done.
  • What meets your specific goals for your book release? Some authors want the launch to build their platform, some want to push for ranking high on Amazon or bestseller lists, and some want a stress-free way to celebrate with friends and family.

See what’s out there before you settle on anything, and think creatively. Talk to other authors about what worked for them. Do you want a book trailer? Can you do something high concept for your launch party?

2. When you do decide what you’d like to do, and when someone comes to you with an opportunity, calculate the time and financial investment, and choose wisely where you’re putting your hours and money. Keep in mind it will almost always cost more and take more time than you’re figuring. Chose the things that sound fun to you, because they will automatically be less stressful and you’ll be less likely to procrastinate on them! Also, choose the opportunities that reach a wide audience or allow for deeper connections with readers.

3. Order swag/promotional items ASAP. Calculate amounts you’ll need, and as soon as you have the information and images you’ll need for on any paper products (like postcards, bookmarks, and business cards), order them. Printing and shipping can take a while, and rush shipping costs can be expensive. This is something that can be done early and stored safely until you need them. My personal advice is to not spend a ton of money on swag. Thick, professional business cards and bookmarks that won’t crease are a great idea. (As soon as it creases or crumples, people tend to throw it out. Moo.com does fabulous, high-quality work.) Swag can be expensive, especially considering how much authors make per book sold, so keep that in mind when you’re laying out your budget—calculate what you make per book, and balance that against the value the swag will provide. Some of it depends on the book, of course, but I went with nice business cards, postcards, and book pins. I haven’t found myself needing anything else so far, though I might do a mix of postcards and bookmarks next time.

4. Don’t leave preparing for a few weeks before release. Treat it a bit like wedding planning. Make a to-do list for each event you’re doing for your launch, right down to items to purchase and announcements to make, and figure out which items can be done ahead of time. Schedule them into a certain day or week on your calendar. For example, if you’re doing a blog tour, start writing the posts three months in advance. One or two a week means you don’t have to scramble and you can keep your schedule balanced. You can even write your release day post early and have it saved as a draft to make changes to as the event gets closer. If you’re doing a book blast/blitz, you can write that material far in advance, too.

Stress Management:


This whole post is about stress management, really, but there are a few specific things you can do to help keep balanced and to enjoy your book release instead of dreading it.

1. Schedule R&R. And I actually mean plan it into your day. An hour for reading, an evening or two a week where you catch up on that show you love, time with your family and friends. You aren’t a machine, and if you act like one, you’ll break down. The most efficient, productive thing you can do during busy, demanding times is take care of your brain and your body. So rest well, eat well, and take that R&R. I’m not kidding. If I push myself hard a few days in a row with a stressful project, it takes me several days to feel like I’m functioning at 100% again. And don’t forget to schedule R&R for after your release—staying balanced will help reduce those nerves.

2. Disconnect. If you don’t need to be on Twitter or your email, close them. As it gets closer to my release date, I feel more and more bombarded by stats, reviews, emails, and questions. It’s overwhelming. Closing up email and social media frees up my concentration and lowers my stress levels. It can be tempting to stalk relatively meaningless rankings and count reviews, but don’t do it. Let yourself look once in a while if you have to, but several times a day or even once a day is usually both a time drain and a cause of stress.

3. Keep writing. One of the best things you can do for your book is to write another one. A new book is great marketing for the old book. Writing also lets us invest somewhere else, and helps us see that not everything hangs on this one book. And it can be fun and inspiring to keep working on a new project, and it can take our minds off everything about release day. Writers write, so keep writing!

About the Author:


Kate Brauning grew up in rural Missouri and fell in love with young adult books in college. She’s now an editor at Entangled Publishing and pursues her lifelong dream of telling stories she'd want to read. Visit her online at www.katebrauning.com or on Twitter at @KateBrauning, and order How We Fall from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or IndieBound.









About the Book:

Ever since Jackie moved to her uncle's sleepy farming town, she's been flirting way too much--and with her own cousin, Marcus.

Her friendship with him has turned into something she can't control, and he's the reason Jackie lost track of her best friend, Ellie, who left for...no one knows where. Now Ellie has been missing for months, and the police, fearing the worst, are searching for her body. Swamped with guilt and the knowledge that acting on her love for Marcus would tear their families apart, Jackie pushes her cousin away. The plan is to fall out of love, and, just as she hoped he would, Marcus falls for the new girl in town. But something isn't right about this stranger, and Jackie's suspicions about the new girl's secrets only drive the wedge deeper between Jackie and Marcus.

Then Marcus is forced to pay the price for someone else's lies as the mystery around Ellie's disappearance starts to become horribly clear. Jackie has to face terrible choices. Can she leave her first love behind, and can she go on living with the fact that she failed her best friend?

Barnes & Noble  | Amazon  | IndieBound | Goodreads

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