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1. September Mosaic

The first fourteen pictures this month are from the Casting for Recovery retreat. That will explain all of those splashes of pink. We had perfect weather and a fabulous group of ladies.

15-17 are my Equinox Amazement photos. The day after the equinox, the sun shone right down the middle of our East/West street. The next day, the sun was noticeably further south because its light was further north. The third day, you can barely see the light going down the sidewalk across the street. We are tracking how far the sun is shining in our south-facing window at school each afternoon when we gather for read aloud (where the sun-patch is on the floor before I lower the blinds).

#18 -- Bono Pizza. Locals, if you've never experienced Bono Pizza, you owe it to yourself and your tastebuds to give it a try. Click over to their website and look at the pictures. I promise you'll drool!

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2. Visualizing a Plan

It has been a nice week of writing in kindergarten. I love these periods of growth that spike at different points in the year. We are still in our phase that is heavily… Continue reading

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3. Rant: can agents be replaced by a service like Submittable

I've conquered the query hurdle and secured representation only to find that being on submission is ten times worse! After years of hard work, research, diligence, and above all, patience, I have to think there must be a better way for writers to find publishers that would be less frustrating and more transparent. It feels like the open waters out there and lots of talented writers are getting eaten alive! You've been very disparaging of some of the referral services that have popped up, perhaps rightfully so, but it seems to me that a service like Submittable could eventually replace the job of an agent.

So my question to you is, do you think the current agenting model is the pinnacle of publishing or is there a better way? What would that way look like?

You'll pardon me please if I get a little hot under the collar about the idea that you think I can be replaced by an Excel spread sheet.

For starters, even asking the question tells me you don't have a clue what an agent really does. The question implies that all we do is send manuscripts and wait for replies.

Here's a brief list of some of the OTHER things I do:

1. Make sure the author knows where to meet his editor at ComicCon to get his badge.  I do this because my author has never been to ComicCon, and never been to the Javits Center and didn't know that "I'll meet you there" is the same thing as saying "I'll meet you in Seattle."

2. Edit proposals

3. Re-edit proposals

4. Review books in a new category to prepare for submission of a project in 2015.

5. Review royalty statements.

6. Call royalty departments to get information on line items that are unclear.

7. Explain royalty statements to authors.

8. Call editor to nudge about getting publication date in a particular month because of client's career commitments.

9. Call editor to nudge about timely payment

10.  Call editor to follow up on manuscripts.

11. Call client to update on manuscript submission.

12. Reply to a "good news" email from client with suggestions on how to leverage that good news.

13. Consult with colleagues about contract language that isn't in author's best interest and determine strategy for negotiating.

14.  Nudge editor for information missing from royalty statement.

15. Update author on information missing from royalty statement.

16. Facilitate lunch meeting with client and colleague who solicits his work for anthologies.

17. Attend reading with client.

18. Answer email from fan about how to purchase client's books.

19. Follow up with client about expired website domain name.

20. Send submissions to editors.

And gentle readers, that's just what I can remember from Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.  And you'll notice that doesn't including writing this, or any other, blog post. Or reading submissions from queriers.

I'm not sure why you find the process of being on submission "frustrating" or why you think  it isn't "transparent."  I've said this before, I'll say it again now: you should be able to get a list of where your project is on submission from your agent in five minutes.  Ten if she's busy. A day if she's in the middle of follow ups.

And what's frustrating? The wait? Trust me, sending your work to someone via Submittable doesn't cut the wait time. I'm very familiar with Submittable because many of the lit mags I send my clients short stories to use it to manage submissions.

Do I think think the agenting model is perfect? No, of course not. Nothing but Our Risen Lord is perfect, and He doesn't work in publishing. Trust me, we've called for him enough.

Do I think it works pretty well? Yes I do. Not every agent is good at his/her job, and not every good agent is a good fit for every writer.

But if you think for one tiny second that what I can do can be replaced by some fucking spread sheet, well,  think again.

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4. Betrayal review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of a new translation of the second of Giorgio Scerbanenco's Duca Lamberti-quartet, published as Betrayal by Hersilia Press last year, and now available in the US from Melville House as Traitors to All (closer to the original Traditori di tutti ...).
       The title confusion can't have helped the book -- which was previously translated as Duca and the Milan Murders (1970) -- as, for example, the (US) Publishers Weekly review relies on the Hersilia edition and uses their title (which probably confuses booksellers and librarians who rely on PW ...).
       Too bad -- it's even better than the first in the series; indeed, it's exemplary, in some ways, and you can understand why the Italians named their big mystery-prize after Scerbanenco.

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5. Are you ready for some football…books?

I love the fall. I do not love people asking me, “Hey, how about that [insert-local-football-team] game?” I have nothing against the sport; it’s just not my thing.

Working at an all-boys school, though, I am surrounded by a mass of gridiron fans. As stereotypical as it may be, I think any of my coworkers would agree that the vast majority of our guys live for sports. They play them. They watch them. They passionately debate about them. And in the fall that means football.

Being a sneaky English teacher, I try to capitalize upon this interest to trick kids into reading. Here’s a list of books about football I find myself recommending to students time and time again.

wallace Muckers 198x300 Are you ready for some football...books?   bradley CallMeByMyName 198x300 Are you ready for some football...books?   herbach StupidFast 200x300 Are you ready for some football...books?   bissinger FridayNightLights 197x300 Are you ready for some football...books?   smith winger 196x300 Are you ready for some football...books?

Muckers by Sandra Neill Wallace
Based on a true story, Muckers follows a 1950s quarterback from a struggling mining town as he tries to lead his team to a state championship in the final year before the high school closes. A great look at a town on the cusp of historical change and the spirit of determination found in athletes.

Call Me By My Name by John Ed Bradley
Set in a slow-to-integrate Louisiana town, Bradley tells the story of two friends and teammates — one black, one white. It’s a well-told tale that explores the power and limitations of athletics to bridge the racial divide.

Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach
A growth spurt punts a once-runty kid into the world of the jocks. With a wonderful voice, Herbach tells a hilarious and real story about navigating sudden change. (My “reluctant” readers often tear through this one.)

Friday Night Lights by H. G. Bissinger
The source material for the movie (best soundtrack ever) and the TV series (one of the best TV shows ever), Bissinger spends a season with the Permian Panthers of Odessa, Texas. It’s a great look at what happens when gifted high school athletes are treated like throwaway gods.

Winger by Andrew Smith
Winger tells the story of a 14-year-old high school junior and rugby player as he tries to navigate life and girls at a boarding school. Smith’s hilarious and soul-crushing novel perfectly captures both the real and tenuous bonds that exist between teammates. (Yes, I know that rugby is not football. But I don’t foresee myself making a “books about rugby list” anytime soon, so here it is.)

share save 171 16 Are you ready for some football...books?

The post Are you ready for some football…books? appeared first on The Horn Book.

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6. all things space-themed

When Stuart and I were visiting the Reeve house on Dartmoor, we spotted two Poglite visitors perched on top of the piano, gently waving about their tentacles:

And then the Reeves notices that all their spoons had disappeared, and I know for certain that these two occurences were linked. Poglites have never managed to develop their own spoon technology, and they are always on the prowl for these treasures.

And just today, Zoe Toft pointed out this article that would have interested the Poglites very much:

Philip and I particularly admired the spoon for disposing of horrific soups:

If you've been following Zoe's Playing by the Book blog, you will have seen that she and her family have already made forays into the world of spoon valuation:

Perhaps some day Reeve & McIntyre will write a Poglite song - and play the spoons! - but in the meantime, you can hear our first Cakes in Space song, as performed at Budleigh Salterton:

But Cakes in Space is not the only new space book, there's an amazing one coming out next week! Kids, adults, librarians, everyone, go get a copy of James Turner's STAR CAT.

James is possibly the funniest writer of comics on the planet, and you can't go wrong with this book. His humour works on many levels; from slapstick to breath-takingly absurd metaphysics. ...Oh, and the London launch party at Gosh is NEXT THURSDAY! Do go along if you can, and get James to sign and doodle in your book:

Besides Gosh comics, another great place to buy STAR CAT online is from The Phoenix Comic's own shop (where you can get lots of other great comics, too. Hmm. I notice it's not there yet, but it should be there next week, after the launch). Check out James's website and you can follow him on Twitter as @eruditebaboon. If you love STAR CAT, be sure to check out his earlier amazing book, Super Animal Adventure Squad... and subscribe to get a weekly dose of comics from The Phoenix Comic!

Speaking of comics, be sure to check out Neill Cameron's blog: he's been writing up a storm about how to get kids reading using comics. I back him 100%, this is something I really believe in.

Comics And Literacy, Part 1: Why Reading Comics Matters

Part 2: The (New) Golden Age of Children's Comics

Part 3: Things You Can Do

Follow him on Twitter as @neillcameron and keep an eye on the #ComicsAndLiteracy hash tag.

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7. A visit from Dianne Bates

When Counterfeit Love, my latest book for young adults, came out this year, I have to admit to suffering a little fatigue. I’d had eleven books published in four years, and was feeling like I’d just finished an ultra marathon. But when I look around at my fellow children’s authors, I realise I’m just ambling […]

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8. Interview with Cecy Robson, Author of Once Perfect and Giveaway

[Manga Maniac Café] Good morning, Cecy! Thanks for dropping by!

[Cecy Robson] Thank you to the good people at Manga Maniac Café for the lovely Q&A and feature.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Cecy Robson] Creative goof obsessed with Thor.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your book?

[Cecy Robson] Evelyn (Evie) is a spunky waitress working at the exclusive Club Excess. Once she supposedly had everything, and now is just struggling to survive. Mateo (Teo) is the lead bouncer at the club and an underground mixed martial arts fighter. He’s had a rough upbringing and despite his efforts to better his life, everything he worked for is robbed from him. Both Teo and Evie have troubling pasts. Both lead hard lives. Both can’t fight their red-hot attraction to each other.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Cecy Robson] My agent told me to brainstorm a few blurbs for a potential new series. Since she wanted me to focus on the New Adult genre, I started to think about what twenty-something year-olds would be interested in. Back in the day, I loved dancing and hitting the clubs. I thought it would be fun to write a story where an exclusive club could serve as the background. What makes clubs hot? Well, sexy muscular bouncers of course! Enter Mateo, lead bouncer and alpha baddass male with protective instincts–the perfect hero for my very heartbroken heroine, Evelyn. Life hasn’t been good to either of my characters. As the story unfolds, readers will see how good they are to each other.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Cecy Robson] I really enjoyed the journey Evelyn and Mateo shared. They both grew and changed tremendously. During times of incredible weakness and pain, they were each other’s strengths. Their relationship while ultra steamy and laced with tremendous sexual attraction, is unique and beautiful. These are two people who genuinely care for each other and want to see the other happy?no matter what it costs them.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with this story?

[Cecy Robson] Ha, ha. That would be the love scenes. I kept trying to fade to black. My agent, bless her heart, wouldn’t let me. I was worried readers would be too distracted by Evelyn and Mateo’s physical relationship and forget there was more to their story. In the end though, I think I managed to create both: a great love story with some equally great love scenes.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had a theme song, what would it be?

[Cecy Robson] Wild One by Flo Rida. It describes Mateo and also sets the tone for the club scene. It’s also a song I picture Mateo and Evie dancing to at a party. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

[Cecy Robson] My iPhone.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Cecy Robson] Laptop, pens, and my iPhone.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Cecy Robson] Jennifer Lawrence, but who wouldn’t? She seems happy and appears to be having a blast!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Cecy Robson] Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs and Deadly Chemistry by Teri Anne Stanley.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Cecy Robson] I love to read.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Cecy Robson] I seem to be everywhere these days, but I’m primarily on Facebook and Twitter and also answer frequent emails from fans on my website. Drop me a line, readers and writers. I’d love to chat. :-)

<http://www.cecyrobson.com/> cecyrobson.com
<http://twitter.com/#!/cecyrobson> twitter.com/cecyrobson

Once Perfect

Shattered Past # 1

By: Cecy Robson

Releasing October 7th, 2014

Loveswept: Flirt


His life was never easy. Hers wasn’t supposed to be this hard. They come from different worlds, but fate lures them together in a way neither expected in Cecy Robson’s raw, steamy series debut—perfect for fans of Monica Murphy and J. Lynn.

Evelyn Preston’s future once looked perfect—until her wealthy father was caught in an embezzlement scandal and took his own life. Alone and struggling to pay her college tuition and bills, Evelyn finds a job as a waitress at the ultra-hip nightclub Excess, where she used to have more in common with the privileged private-school clientele than her fellow staff members. But something attracts her to the sexy six-foot-four bouncer and underground MMA fighter Mateo Tres Santos. Although they’ve led different lives, their troubled pasts bonds them in both survival and love.

Mateo is ex-army who wound up in prison for assaulting the man who harmed his sister. Now he’s feeling the same protective impulse for this petite blond waitress. When Evelyn experiences a panic attack at the club, Mateo comes to her rescue. And when Mateo is wounded shielding her from a brawl, Evelyn returns the favor and comes to his aid.

As their attraction intensifies, Mateo is determined to find out what nightmares are lurking in Evelyn’s past—even if that means tackling his own to save her.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/07/once-perfect-shattered-past-1-by-cecy.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20699759-once-perfect?from_search=true

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Once-Perfect-Shattered-Past-Robson-ebook/dp/B00JNQMLE0/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1409516722&sr=1-1&keywords=once+perfect

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/once-perfect-cecy-robson/1120019665?ean=9780553391169

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/once-perfect/id862226886?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/once-perfect

Author Info

Cecy Robson is the New Adult author of Once Perfect, Once Loved, and Once Pure and the award-winning author of the Weird Girls urban fantasy romance series. A self-proclaimed professional napper, Cecy counts among her talents a jaw-dropping knowledge of useless trivia, the ability to make her hair big, and a knack for breaking into song despite her family’s vehement protests. A full-time writer, registered nurse, wife, and mother living in the Great Northwest, Cecy enjoys spending time with her family and silencing the yappy characters in her head by telling their stories.

Author Links

Website: http://www.cecyrobson.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cecy.Robson.Author

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cecyrobson

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6177334.Cecy_Robson



“Malibu Barbie. We need more cocktail napkins!”

I stopped wiping the bar booth, torn between throwing my bucket at Sam or at the cluster of bouncers chuckling at his Barbie dig. I still had two more booths to clean before the doors to the Main Line’s infamous Club Excess opened and the real work began. A crowd of spoiled brats?offspring of Philly’s wealthiest families?with too much money and too much attitude already crowded the doors. I should know. I used to be one of them. Except they still had the money.

I had a screaming boss.


“Jesus, Sam, I’m going.” I tossed my towel on the table and stomped across the dance floor in my black, thigh-high boots. If it weren’t for the crazy tips the drunk idiots dropped like bowling balls, no way would I work at a place where I had to accessorize tiny black shorts and a skimpy tank with these hooker boots. The white dress shirt tied at my belly was Sam’s way of compromising when me and a few of the other waitresses complained about our new “uniforms.” The more desperate among us tied it closer to their cleavage. I didn’t. Even if it meant less money, I wanted to hang on to what little pride I had left.

My steps slowed as I neared the group of bouncers huddled around Mateo. He was young, younger than at least half of them, and still they looked up to him. ’’Considering Mateo was an ex-con who fought in fight clubs, you’d think the staff would avoid him’’. I sure did. Hell, I’d barely spoken to him in the six months I’d worked at Excess, using any excuse to keep my distance. That said, there was something about him that made people take notice. His burly arms crossed his chest. Power was inked on one forearm in bold Gothic lettering, Wrath on the other, and black flames crawled up both, disappearing beneath the sleeves of his tight black T-shirt.

My puny shoulders tensed as I drew closer. Mateo had served time for beating some poor guy so brutally the guy had spent two weeks in the hospital recovering from the bashes to his face and body. I watched Mateo, a lot. Every now and then, I’d catch him glancing my way, too. He’d offer me a brief nod or a small smile, but I never offered anything in return. His size, the depth of his voice, and his aptitude for violence scared me, despite his captivating looks. He moved like a panther staking out his turf, ready for anything, his steely hazel eyes taking everything in.

He spoke low and rough as the last of his crew arrived. “Listen up. Keep the drugs and the dealers out. They come in with that shit, you see anyone selling?send their asses out the door. Sam doesn’t want another OD in his place. If those rich pricks want to die, they can do it somewhere else.”

The others answered Mateo with stiff nods, except for Dale, who whistled as I walked by. “Nice ass, Evelyn . . .”

His voice trailed off. I turned to shoot him a dirty look over my shoulder only to catch the death glare Mateo was firing his way. “Leave Evie the fuck alone and pay attention, Dale,” Mateo told him. Dale immediately dropped his gaze, allowing Mateo to return his attention to the rest of the group. “With the first week of classes over, these fools are looking to party hard, and the dealers are ready to assist. ““Don’t go it alone. Call for backup if you need it, when you need it. I’ll take point near the bar. Ant’s my second. He’ll take point left of the floor. If I’m mixed up in some other shit, you call him. Got me?”

The bouncers collectively muttered in agreement. Even Dale.

My heart was thumping against my sternum and I lost my footing. I reached for my ponytail and tightened it fast, trying to pretend that was the reason I’d tripped and not, absolutely not, because ’Mateo had stuck up for me and shut Dale up on my behalf. Or because he’d called me “Evie.” Again. No one else had ever called me that.

Rafflecopter Giveaway ($25.00 eGift Card to Choice Book Seller & Copy of ONCE PERFECT)

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The post Interview with Cecy Robson, Author of Once Perfect and Giveaway appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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9. Guest Post: Anton Strout, Author of Incarnate

Please welcome Anton Strout back to the virtual offices!  Anton has a guest post to share, so check it out.

Name 5 things Lexi WOULD have in her purse

In THE SPELLMASON CHRONICLES Alexandra “Lexi” Belarus isn’t the sort of woman who finds herself with a purse in hand often.  Instead she prefers the fashionable roominess of a designer backpack as the life of Manhattan’s only practicing Spellmason is a hectic one where carrying capacity wins out over handbag cuteness every time.  Let’s peek inside, shall we?

1. A 40 lb. book made of solid stone

Spellmasonry—the art of wielding power and imbuing stonework with life—is a lost art, known only to Manhattan’s Belarus family with 24 year old Alexandra relearning it.  That means she is reliant on the secrets her great-great grandfather wrote centuries ago in a book that’s natural state is solid stone.  Only a Spellmason can open this tome, transforming it to paper, but it means it’s the number one thing Lexi has on her at all times.  While some arcana can be memorized and cast at will, there is much for Lexi to learn and practice in this voluminous and heavy tome.

2. One standard composition notebook (covered in various stains)

Lexi hasn’t quite achieved the prowess of her great-great grandfather at Spellmasonry, but she’s making do in this modern world.  Much of what isn’t spelled out in the stone book is scattered throughout two secret libraries, the content coded throughout multiple volumes, forcing Lexi to compile a spell book of her own.  The stains come from working with much of the alchemy that is involved in the trial and error of imbuing stone with the properties of the living.

3. 3 and 1/2 cell phones (broken screened)

The woman carries around a large stone book in her backpack, is on the run from witches and warlocks, and is fighting winged creatures made of stone.  There’s a lot of smashy smashy going on in all that, and technology does not react well to thinks that go bump in the night.

4. Bandages

Carrying on with the theme of #3, the human body also does not always play well with the resulting spells cast from the abovementioned witches and warlocks or the flick of a gargoyle’s wing that sends her and her friends flying into an alley wall.  As a fleshy, fleshy species, we don’t take to the smashy smashy too good.  Hence?  BANDAGES!

5. Bricksley

As if her backpack wasn’t heavy enough, let’s just throw one more brick in it, shall we?  But not just any brick, no!  We’re talking about Lexi’s first experimental attempt at imbuing stone with life, her humble, painted on smiling Bricksley.  Usually he can be found in one of the Spellmason libraries shelving books or returning alchemical supplies to their cabinets, but ever so often our happy little brick golem stows away for a little field work.  Sneaky little Bricksley!


Anton Strout

Ace Mass Market

$7.99 | 320 pages

ISBN: 9780425273555

September 30, 2014

When Alexandra Belarus discovered her family’s secret ability to breathe life into stone, she uncovered an entire world of magic hidden within New York City—a world she has accidentally thrown into chaos. A spell gone awry has set thousands of gargoyles loose upon Manhattan, and it’s up to Lexi and her faithful protector, Stanis, to put things right.

But the stress of saving the city is casting a pall over Lexi and Stanis’s relationship, driving them to work separately to solve the problem. As Stanis struggles to unite the gargoyle population, Lexi forges unlikely alliances with witches, alchemists and New York’s Finest to quell an unsettling uprising led by an ancient and deadly foe long thought vanquished.

To save her city, Lexi must wield more power than ever before with the added hope of recovering a mysterious artifact that could change her world—and bring her closer to Stanis than she ever thought possible…


“Excellent character development. The ending leaves this whole world open in a great way…My favorite part of this is the use of magic…It feels organic and interesting.”


“Thrilling…Skillful characterization enriches a story that is filled with peril, loss, treachery and sacrifice. Great stuff!”

RT Book Reviews

“High stakes, high tension, stark contrasts, well-rounded cast and dialogue complete with quips and banter.”

Urban Fantasy Land


Anton Strout is the author of the Spellmason Chronicles, including Stonecast and Alchemystic, and the Simon Canderous series including Dead Waters, Dead Matter, Deader Still, and Dead to Me. He was born in the Berkshire Hills mere miles from writing heavyweights Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville. He currently lives in historic Jackson Heights, New York (where noting paranormal ever really happens, he assures you!). In his scant spare time, he is an always writer, a sometimes actor, sometimes musician, occasional RPGer, and the world’s most casual and controller-smashing video gamer. He currently works in the exciting world of publishing and yes, it is as glamorous as it sounds. Visit him online at www.antonstrout.com.

The post Guest Post: Anton Strout, Author of Incarnate appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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10. Prize: Berliner Literaturpreis

       Another day, another German author prize announcement (several, actually, but this seems like the most noteworthy one): they've announced that Olga Martynova will get next year's Berliner Literaturpreis (confusingly also known as the Berliner Preis für deutschsprachige Literatur), picking up the €30,000 prize on 18 February 2015 (yes, they do plan ahead, don't they ?).
       Martynova won the 2012 Ingeborg-Bachmann-Preis, and I'm kind of surprised she hasn't been picked up in English yet -- Mörikes Schlüsselbein, in particular, sounds like a title of particular interest; see information about that and her other books at the Droschl foreign rights page.
       Meanwhile, she's in pretty good company with the Berliner Literaturpreis: winners include Herta Müller (2005), Durs Grünbein (2006), and Ilija Trojanow (2007).

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Inspired by this song. A tribute to all the tragedies that happened in the month of September.

0 Comments on as of 10/2/2014 7:03:00 AM
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12. The last 100 reviews

       So having reached (and now passed) 3400 reviews at the complete review it's time to look at the numbers re. the past 100 reviews (3301-3400):

        - the 100 reviews were posted in 181 days (previous hundred: 187 days), and totaled 92,723 words (the highest average to date; previous hundred: 89,132 words). 28 reviews were over 1000 words, 4 were under 500 words in length. The longest review was 3610 words.

        - the 100 reviewed books had a total of 24,995 pages (a statistic I've just started tracking this year). The longest had 1003 pages, but only five were longer than 500 pages (with eight more between 400-499 pages); eight were shorter than 100 pages.

        - reviews were of books originally written in 27 different languages (previous hundred: 22) -- the best-represented languages being English (22), followed by French (18). One new language was added (Romansh, barely), bringing the total number of languages represented at the complete review to 64.
       Amazingly, at least one title in each of the 15 most popular langauges (of books already under review) was reviewed.
       See also the language list for a full breakdown of all languages.

        - reviewed books were by authors from 37 countries (previous hundred: 36), led by France (13), the UK (10), Japan and the US (8 each).

        - 81 reviewed titles were novels (previous hundred: 89), and there were six story-collections; there were two volumes each of poetry and diaries, and six volumes of (various) non-fiction

        - One title received a grade of A; 10: A-; 31: B+; 50 B

        - 17 reviewed titles were first published in 2014; 50 between 2010-2014; 21 between 2000-2009; 5 in the 1990s; 3 in the 1980s; 5 in the 1970s; 8 in the 1960s. Three were published before 1900.

        - 22.5 of the reviewed books were written by women -- a ridiculously low percentage but (by quite a margin -- over 10 per cent) the highest total ever recorded at the site for a 100-book block of reviews, upping the percentage of female-authored titles at the site from 15.08 per cent to a record 15.29 per cent; see also the full breakdown here.

       Good to see that there were (slightly ...) more female authors, as well as the usual spread of languages (though it's a bit disappointing that the dominant languages were again dominant -- the fifteen most popular languages each were represented by at least one title). I'm not sure about the trend towards lengthier reviews -- at what point do they get too long ?
       And worth keeping an eye on: it'll probably be another 150 reviews of so, but at some point in the foreseeable future the percentage of all titles under review originally written in English will drop below 40 per cent. (Recall that of the first 1000 reviews, 681 were of books written in English, and even after 2000 reviews these still constituted 53.30 per cent of all titles.)

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13. Best Selling Picture Books | October 2014

Herve Tullet is a picture book hero! His best selling picture book Press Here (Chronicle Books, 2011) has been joined on the best selling picture book list by his incredibly fun Mix it Up!

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14. Newsletter Hamelin 2 ottobre 2014

NEWSLETTER del 2/10/2014

È andata benissimo, ci pare. Grazie a tutti per la grande partecipazione, davvero sorprendente. Contiamo di proseguire insieme il percorso iniziato.

Qui le foto della giornata.

Qui scaricabili gratuitamente materiali di approfondimento su lettura e adolescenza.

Stiamo lavorando agli atti del convegno, in uscita sul prossimo numero della rivista.

Da oggi, uno alla volta, gli 11 nuovi percorsi Xanadu, con i libri "titolari".
Il primo: le storie d'amore.
Romanzo di riferimento sarà Cime tempestose di Emily Brontë.
E da lì partiranno due strade, ognuna con altri libri, fumetti, film: il rapporto tra amore e morte e l'importanza del corpo.
Seguiteci su Facebook per scoprire gli altri percorsi nei prossimi giorni.

International Board on Books for Young People è una rete internazionale di persone, che provengono da 77 paesi e promuove la cooperazione internazionale attraverso i libri per bambini, creando ovunque per l'infanzia l'opportunità di avere accesso a libri di alto livello letterario e artistico e incoraggiando la pubblicazione e la distribuzione di libri di qualità per bambini specialmente nei Paesi in via di sviluppo.

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15. 파주 북소리 !

       It's time -- from tomorrow through 12 October -- for 파주 북소리 -- Paju Booksori, the big book festival at South Korea's famous 'book city'.
       In the Korea JoongAng Ilbo Kim Hyung-Eun has an overview of what's going on, in Literature comes alive in Paju Book City.

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16. Little Leap Forward—A Boy in Bejing by Guy Yue and Clare Farrow {Guest Post by Hannah Rials}

{Guest post By Hannah Rials}

Little Leap Forward is the story of a young boy in Revolutionary China. He lives in the musician’s  quarter with his mother and sisters, where he is trying to find inspiration for the music. He hears music in everything—fish, silk worms, birds—and just like his father, he aspires to become a great musician. Little Leap as he is commonly called enjoys his life, his friends Little-Little and Blue, and most enjoys his times at the river. He skips stones, catches fish, and flies white kites as often as he can. Even through the hardships of his time—matching clothing, rationed food—he manages to find happiness.
One day, Little-Little catches a little bird for Little Leap, which he decides to take home. He quickly builds a home for his new friend, planning to learn her, who he names Little Cloud, beautiful son. But no matter what he does, Little Cloud will not sing. His friends and family try to convince him that captivity is not the life for her. But he knows he just hasn’t found her inspiration yet. So to help her beloved son along, Little Leap’s mother buys him a bamboo flute and pays for his lessons with a little jar of soy sauce. Little Leap makes it his mission to become a wonderful flute player so that soon he will be able to hear Little Cloud’s song.
Then tragedy strikes. Chairman Mao becomes convinced that all intellectuals, books, and writers are against the revolution, and so the Red Guard is formed. They begin burning books, pictures—all memories of the old China. During this time, life becomes more restricted, his friend Blue moves to the country, and he slowly comes to the realization that Little Cloud really isn’t made for courtyard life. One day, he takes Little Cloud’s cage out to the river and opens the door. One moment, she’s in the cage; the next, she’s gone. But, as the saying goes, when one door closes, another opens. One day, after a long time of not going to the river, Little Leap decides to take his flute down to practice. He practices his scales and a few melodies he memorized. Then suddenly, Little Cloud reappears, recognizes him, and allows him to hold her. He began to play for her and was thrilled when she replied. He didn’t even realize when she wasn’t there anymore. For the first time in a long time, Little Leap was happy.
This book is very special. Not only is it a beautiful story, but a true story. Guo Yue based Little Leap Forward on his own childhood in the musician’s courtyard during Revolutionary China. The story is meaningful and illustrates a lifestyle during a rough time in China. Like other Barefoot Books stories, Guy Yue and Clare Farrow tell an inspirational, educational story that will live on in our hearts.
Something To Do:
1. learn more about the Erhu (Chinese Violin)

2. Ever wondered How to Skip Stones? Here’s your chance to Learn!
1. Pick the right stone: flat, uniform thickness/thinness, fits in your palm, and no heavier than a tennis ball. Too heavy and the rock won’t skip off the water.  2. Hold the stone between your thumb and middle finger, with your thumb on top, and your index finger hooked along the edge.  3. Stand facing the water at a slight angle. With rock in hand, pull your arm back like you’re going to throw a sidearm pitch.  4. As you throw the rock, cock your wrist back. Right before the release, give your wrist a quick flick. This will create the spin needed for the stone to skip across the water.  5. Throw out and down at the same time. For maximum skips, the stone should enter the water at a 20 degree angle. Scientists have found this to be the optimal angle for stone skipping!  6. Have fun skipping stones with your kiddos!
3. Take The Silkworm Challenge!
4. Make a Paper Kite:
-Cut a diamond out of white paper and decorate with symbols such as a dragon, phoenix, silk worm, or fish.
-Depending on where you live in the world, find some type of smooth sticks, and make a cross on one side the paper
-You can make the tails with streamers to make it colorful.
-Tie a string where the sticks intersect that you will use to control the kite.
- Wait for a windy day, then let it fly
5. Print off some Phoenix coloring pages:


6. Create your own Bamboo Flute!


Hannha rials

Born in the hills of Louisiana and raised in the mountains of Tennessee, Hannah Rials is a eighteen year-old aspiring author and editor. She’s been writing short stories since she was a little girl, but for the past several years, she has been writing, editing, and reediting a novel of her own that she hopes to publish in the near future.  Hannah has always loved reading and the world of books. With a librarian grandmother who can tell the most magical stories, how could she not fall in love with the written word. Her library collection and love for books grows every day.



The post Little Leap Forward—A Boy in Bejing by Guy Yue and Clare Farrow {Guest Post by Hannah Rials} appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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17. Hickory Daiquiri Dock: Tim Federle, Nursery Rhymes, and Some Light Apéritifs

TimFederle Hickory Daiquiri Dock: Tim Federle, Nursery Rhymes, and Some Light ApéritifsThere’s this fellow I know. Tim Federle is his name. You might know him from his rather extraordinary and charming middle grade books BETTER NATE THAN EVER and FIVE, SIX, SEVEN, NATE. Both books focus on a theater kid finding his way on Broadway. They are charming, effervescent, and irresistible, much like their author.

In my book WILD THINGS: ACTS OF MISCHIEF IN CHILDREN’S LITERATURE, my co-writers and I tackled the notion of children’s authors doing adult things, living adult lives and the reaction from the public on the matter. Very much what Tim’s doing here.  Then there’s the fact that years ago SLJ fielded complaints when they published a picture of me with some children’s literary bloggers in a bar.  Needless to say, when Tim suggested I do a post with him that talked a bit about his adult, but still children’s literature related, book HICKORY DAIQUIRI DOCK, I felt this was definitely a topic I wanted to visit.

Betsy: So you traipse between the world of writing children’s books and the world of drinks with children’s book names.  Do you find them intersecting in weird ways at all?

Tim: Not so much weird ways as unexpected ones. I was planning my tour for Five, Six, Seven, Nate! when the owner of Inkwood Books in Tampa suggested we do school visits in the daytime and a cocktail event for the parents at night. It was a big hit.

Betsy: Historically, whenever a children’s book author tries to do anything adult they get chastised mightily.  There’s this understanding that writers for kids can’t have adult lives.  With that in mind, have you gotten any pushback against TEQUILA MOCKINGBIRD?

Tim: Knock on wood — so far, I’ve actually had lots of librarians quietly slink up to me in signing lines for my middle grade books and slide over their personal copy of TEQUILA MOCKINGBIRD. I’m always happy to advise them to “read responsibly.” HICKORY DAIQUIRI DOCK is a board book featuring cocktails inspired by classic nursery rhymes, so I’m hoping the crossover audience expands even more. Provided they are at least 21, obvi.

Screen Shot 2014 10 01 at 10.29.25 PM Hickory Daiquiri Dock: Tim Federle, Nursery Rhymes, and Some Light ApéritifsBetsy: Is there a BETTER NATE THAN EVER inspired drink in there?  If not, could there be?

Tim: Ha! Maybe chocolate milk spiked with Red Bull, for a teenage boy needing focus and energy to perform on Broadway. (Note: do not try this at home. Or ever.)

Betsy: Where did you get the names of the drinks?  Are they all from you or do you have to credit some folks with a couple of them?

Tim: Most of the HICKORY DAIQUIRI DOCK drink recipe titles — from “Ring Around the Rosé” to “Bloody Mary, Quite Contrary” — came from a combo of my own little head and also crowd-sourcing on Twitter. I asked my friends and followers for suggestions and got a happy deluge. And I had a nifty cocktail consultant help make sure the drinks weren’t just funny but also delish.

Betsy: Do you have a favorite?

HickoryDaiquiri 300x300 Hickory Daiquiri Dock: Tim Federle, Nursery Rhymes, and Some Light ApéritifsTim: The book is beautifully illustrated (by the fabulous Eda Kaban) and my favorite is probably “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bar,” which features a new dad pressing his face against the glass of his formerly favorite bar.

Betsy: And will there be a follow-up?

Tim: I’m cooking up a TEQUILA MOCKINGBIRD sequel, whereas HICKORY is more of a companion book. I’m in my mid-thirties, and so many people in my life are having babies — I wanted to create something cheeky and sweet to mark the occasion for my friends; I’m hoping HICKORY DAIQUIRI DOCK will be the premiere baby shower gift for generations to come icon smile Hickory Daiquiri Dock: Tim Federle, Nursery Rhymes, and Some Light Apéritifs Or a Holiday gift — it’s out this December.

Betsy: Thank you, Tim!

By the way, I’d be amiss in not mentioning that Tim’s first cocktail book got a mention on an obscure little television program by the name of Jeopardy.  As such . . .

Screen Shot 2014 10 01 at 10.52.04 PM 500x345 Hickory Daiquiri Dock: Tim Federle, Nursery Rhymes, and Some Light Apéritifs

Thanks for stopping by, Tim!

Tim Federle is the author of TEQUILA MOCKINGBIRD: COCKTAILS WITH A LITERARY TWIST, which was named the 2013 Goodreads Cookbook of the Year and called “a joy” by the London Evening Standard. Tim’s forthcoming cocktail book, HICKORY DAIQUIRI DOCK: COCKTAILS WITH A NURSERY RHYME TWIST, has been declared “more fun at a baby shower than a Diaper Genie” by the Tampa Bay Times. Though Tim is not a parent himself (that he knows of), he is a very cool uncle. Say hi at TimFederle.com and connect on Twitter and Instagram @TimFederle.

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18. Anthony Horowitz to write new James Bond novel

Anthony Horowitz

Anthony Horowitz

Anthony Horowitz, author of the Alex Rider teenage spy novels, has been invited to write a new James Bond adventure by the Ian Fleming estate.

Currently dubbed Project One, the book will be set in the 1950s and contain previously unseen Fleming material.

Horowitz said Fleming’s hero had had “a profound influence” on his life adding: “This is a book I had to write.”

The material, an episode treatment for an unmade James Bond TV series, takes 007 into the world of motor racing.

Entitled Murder on Wheels, the treatment will serve as a starting point for Horowitz’s novel, to be published on 8 September 2015.

“When the estate approached me to write a new James Bond novel how could I possibly refuse?” said the 59-year-old, who was made an OBE in the New Year Honours.

“It’s a huge challenge… but having original, unpublished material by Fleming has been an inspiration.”

“In the 1950s, Ian Fleming wrote several episode treatments for a James Bond television series,” said Jessie Grimond, the author’s great-niece.

“But it never came to be made and he ended up turning most of the plots into the short stories that are now in the collections For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy and The Living Daylights.

“However, there are a few plot outlines which he never used and which, till now, have never been published, or aired.

“Given that Anthony is as brilliant a screenwriter as he is a novelist, we thought it would be exciting to see what he would do with one of them.”

Read the full story on BBC News

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19. In the Limelight with Fantasy Author: Carol Browne...

I want to thank and welcome fantastic fantasy author, Carol Browne for sharing her personal writing journey with us on my blog today. Carol’s book The Exile of Elidel is the first book of a trilogy and can be purchased from Musa Publishing, Amazon, and other on-line bookstores. Bonus: Stay tuned for a chance to win an ecopy of The Exile of Elidel at the end of this post. So let’s get this interview started…

How long have you been writing, Carol?

I started scribbling when I was about seven years old. From that point on I always wanted to be a ‘proper’ writer. It was a very long time before I achieved that goal – we’re talking nearly five decades!

I feel you, Carol. It sounds like we’ve been on the same path. Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write The Exile of Elindel?

In 1976, I was listening to a jukebox in an English pub when Mike Oldfield’s In Dulci Jubilo came on. The music conjured up an image in my mind of two fantasy characters who seemed to be nearing the end of some kind of quest. I felt compelled to write their story and find out who they were and what was going to happen to them. I set them in Dark Age Britainbecause Anglo-Saxon had been part of the English degree I had just completed at University and the era appealed to me. I felt I was going with these characters on their adventure, watching as they collected back stories and companions along the way.

What sets The Exile of Elindel apart from other books/series in the same genre?

I have to confess to not being a great reader of the sword-and-sorcery type of fantasy genre, so there’s little I can compare mine with. I like to think my elves are a bit different, though. They’re vegetarians and they talk to animals and have tremendous reverence for nature. They would definitely join the Green party if they were around today!

I also like to add humour to lighten the mood. Too much angst and jeopardy can get very tedious. I mixed up the genres a little too. In Book II there is an element of sci-fi as well as fantasy, while in Book III there’s a good dollop of horror. I’ve added some light romance as well; so something for everyone!

You’ve certainly thought of everyone, Carol! As a fantasy author, what is your writing process?

I write my first draft in longhand and have all my notes and research Blu-tacked to the walls of the room where I work. Once I commit myself to writing something, it is with me all the time so I take a pen and paper out with me in case I get any fresh ideas. I have a housekeeping job and frequently have to stop to jot something down. I hate it when characters start talking to each other in my head. I have to say ‘Shut up! I can’t write all that down now.” It’s infuriating that I can’t set aside regular time slots for writing. I guess I’ll have to hang on till I retire.

Seems like you’re always prepared when your characters come a-calling! How long did it take for you to start and finish The Exile of Elindel?

That’s a difficult question! I can’t remember that far back. (Those files have been deleted!) I do remember the first draft being ENORMOUS. It rambled on forever; more padding than a king-size duvet. I wrote it in the summer of 1977 and spent the next thirty-odd years lugging it around in suitcases, storing it in attics, taking it out to rewrite it and submit to publishers, putting it back in the attic.

Thirty years? Now that’s dedication! Do you have any advice for other writers striving to write in your genre, Carol?

Use your own original voice and ideas. Don’t try to be the next Tolkein.

Brilliant advice! Everyone is unique in their own way. So, what’s next for Carol Browne the author?

The rest of the trilogy will be out next year: Book II, Gateway to Elvendom, in March and Book III, Wyrd’s End, in December – as long as everything goes smoothly with the editing process. Meanwhile, I’m nearing the end of my work in progress, a paranormal thriller. I recently wrote myself into a corner with this one and so lost a few days while I worked things out. I have discovered over the years that if you are stuck with a plot or character, there’s always a solution, but it might have to simmer away in the old brain pan for a while before it bobs to the surface.

It sounds like you’ve got your work cut out for you! Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series—If you could time travel anywhere into Earth’s past, where would you go and why?

If I could go back to the Battle of Hastings in 1066, and somehow make sure the Saxons won instead of the Normans, I would. But let’s be realistic! I have always admired Horatio, Lord Nelson, and I love those old ships of the line. (I stood on board HMS Victory myself during a visit to the Naval Dockyards in Portsmouth a few years ago, and it is a day I will never forget). If I could, I’d like to go back to the time of the Napoleonic Wars and meet Nelson. I’d love to know if he was as charismatic as everyone said he was.

Thank you very much for having me on your blog, Sharon. I did enjoy the experience!

Elgiva, a young elf banished from Elvendom, must seek shelter among the Saxons as her only hope of surviving the coming winter.
Godwin, a Briton enslaved by the Saxons, is a man ignorant of his own inheritance and the secret of power he possesses.
A mysterious enemy, who will stop at nothing to wield absolute power over Elvendom, is about to make his move.
When destiny throws Elgiva and Godwin together, they embark upon the quest for the legendary Lorestone, the only thing that can save Elvendom from the evil that threatens to destroy it.
There is help to be found along the way from a petulant pony and a timid elf boy but, as the strength of their adversary grows, can Elgiva’s friends help her to find the Lorestone before it falls into the wrong hands?


Carol Browne first appeared on the planet in 1954. She regards Crewe, Cheshire, as her home town and graduated from Nottingham University in 1976 with an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living in the Cambridgeshire countryside with her dog, Harry, and cockatiel, Sparky, when she’s not writing fiction, Carol spends her time as a housekeeper, proofreader, and ghost writer in order to pay the bills. Pagan and vegan, Carol believes it is time for a paradigm shift in our attitude to Mother Nature and hopes the days of speciesism are numbered.


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCarolBrowne
Twitter: https://twitter.com/@CarolABrowne

ENTER TO WIN: Carol has her magical elfin hat cleaned out and rearing to go. All you have to do is leave a comment along with your contact information, and Carol with add your name into the hat for a chance to win an ecopy of The Exile of Elindel. You have until midnight EST Monday, October 6th2014 to submit your comment, and then POOF— the magical elfin hat picks the winner! Good luck, everyone!

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20. What is the most important issue in music education today?

Fall is upon us. The temperature is falling, the leaves are turning, and students are making their way back at school. To get a glimpse into the new school year, we asked some key music educators share their thoughts on the most important issues in music education today.

  *    *    *    *    *

“The history of music education in the United States is integrally linked to general educational policies and initiatives, as well as American culture and society. Rationales for why music is an important component of students’ education have utilized utilitarian, aesthetic, and praxial arguments, often attempting to connect the goals of music learning with the educational priorities of the day. In the “data driven,” high stakes testing milieu of today’s educational reform movement, music educators find themselves having to defend not only music programs, but also the teaching profession in general. Political rhetoric and shrinking budgets have too often resulted in the false choice of ‘basic subjects’ over other areas of study, such as music and art, that can provide meaningful ways of understanding the world and equipping individuals to live a ‘good life.’ In this environment it is important that music teachers remain strong, articulate advocates for the value of music in the complete education of children, and to not resort to superficial reasons for music’s inclusion in school curricula. All persons deserve the opportunity to experience a life enriched through active musical participation that includes creating, performing, and listening to music. Robust school music programs help to provide the foundational understandings to make that possible. As Karl Gehrkens, former president of the Music Supervisors National Conference, stated in 1923, ‘Music for every child; every child for music.’”

Dr. William I. Bauer, Associate Professor and Director of the Online Master of Music in Music Education program at the University of Florida, and author of Music Learning Today: Digital Pedagogy for Creating, Performing, and Responding to Music

  *    *    *    *    *

“Access to quality music instruction is the most important issue in music education today. Some American children have a daily opportunity to make music during school with a certified music teacher who assists them in creating music, performing music, and responding to music. However, many children do not have this opportunity. In some cases, children may have daily access to a music teacher, but that music teacher may not organize instruction in a way that offers the opportunity to create, perform, and respond to music. Many children have access to a music teacher only a few times per week and oftentimes the lack of resources for that music program leads to a subpar experience for students. Due to a lack of state level policy regarding music education, many children have no music teacher in their school building. Although there are rich opportunities for outside of school community music in the United States, many children cannot afford to pay for music instruction outside of the school setting. Citizens interested in making a difference in music education must advocate for a well-prepared, certified music teacher in every school building. Music needs to be mandated at least twice a week in a dedicated space at the elementary level and every secondary student should have the opportunity to participate in choral, instrumental, and general music.”

Colleen M. Conway, Professor of Music Education, School of Music, Theatre & Dance, University of Michigan, Editor-in-Chief of Arts Education Policy Review, and the editor of The Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research in American Music Education

*    *    *    *    *

“The most important issue in music education today is one that has existed for as long as has formal music education: assessment. The term raises many eyebrows, and I believe in viewing assessment for both its positive attributes and for the dangers it can present. Assessment of student work is vital for accountability, curriculum development, and instructional planning, but assessment can be dangerous when it accounts only for standardized measures, when it is used punitively, and when it does not properly inform educational decision-making. Good assessment of student work in music should help students to understand their own progress, and allow them to explore music creatively. Assessment of music teachers’ work is just as crucial because music teachers must be outstanding musicians, pedagogical thinkers, and instructors. Similar to assessment of student work, assessment of teachers should help to inform teachers of their strengths and areas for growth. Good assessment of teachers should provide feedback for improvement of planning and instruction, and should encourage teachers to incorporate new ideas, technologies, and types of interaction with their students. Assessments of teachers should be based on their actual performance rather than on that of their students, as is the unfortunate case in many high-stakes testing scenarios. Thoughtful, positively focused assessment can be a powerful motivator for educational progress and change, and can help students and teachers alike to participate creatively in music.”

Jay Dorfman, Assistant Professor in Music Education at Boston University, and author of Theory and Practice of Technology-Based Music Instruction

*   *   *   *   *

“With the current trend towards turning student evaluations into teacher accountability measures, we risk narrowly focusing music education to those skills based elements that can be easily measured.  As music teacher educators we need to resist the urge to succumb to the standardized testing movement and broaden our students’ notions of what it means to be musical. We need to ensure a learner centered music education for all students that fosters creative thinking and divergent outcomes, such as composing, improvising and other forms of sonic exploration and expression through traditional and non-traditional approaches to music making.”

Gena R. Greher, Professor of Music Education at University of Massachusetts Lowell, and co-author of Computational Thinking in Sound: Teaching the Art and Science of Music and Technology

*    *    *    *    *

“The most important issue in music education today is the lack of understanding shown by policy makers, school leaders, local politicians, and governments of the value of systematic and successful music learning across the lifespan, especially for our children and young people. Engaging in active music learning over a sustained period generates measurable physical, psychological and social benefits (as well as cultural benefit) that are long-term for the individuals and groups involved. The scientific evidence of music’s value (from clinical science, neuroscience, and social science) is increasing every day. Although we don’t yet understand clearly all the mechanisms of how music learning can promote long-term benefit, there can be no doubt that music can make a powerful and positive difference to health (physical, emotional, cognitive), whilst supporting different aspects of intellectual functioning (such as literacy) and fostering social inclusion and cohesion amongst and across diverse groups. Investing in high quality music education should be a priority for all, not just the lucky few, because music can transform lives for the better, across the lifespan.”

Graham Welch, Professor, Institute of Education, University of London, and co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Music Education, Volume 1 and Volume 2

Headline Image: music-classical-sheet-music-piano. Creative Commons License via Pixabay

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21. A welcome from David Cannadine, the new editor of the Oxford DNB

September 2014 marked the tenth anniversary of the publication of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Over the next month a series of blog posts explore aspects of the Dictionary’s online evolution in the decade since 2004. In this post, Sir David Cannadine describes his role as the new editor of the Oxford DNB.

Here at Princeton, the new academic year is very much upon us, and I shall soon begin teaching a junior seminar on ‘Winston Churchill, Anglo-America, and the “Special Relationship”’, which is always enormously enjoyable, not least because one of the essential books on the undergraduate reading list is Paul Addison’s marvellous brief biography, published by OUP, which he developed from the outstanding entry on Churchill that he wrote for the Oxford DNB. I’ve been away from the university for a year, on leave as a visiting professor at New York University, so there is a great deal of catching up to do. This month I also assume the editorial chair at the ODNB, as its fourth editor, in succession to the late-lamented Colin Matthew, to Brian Harrison, and to Lawrence Goldman.

As such, I shall be the first ODNB editor who is not resident in Britain, let alone living and working in Oxford, but this says more about our globalized and inter-connected world than it does about me. When I was contacted, several months ago, by a New York representative of OUP, asking me whether I might consider being the next editor, I gave my permanent residence in America as a compelling reason for not taking the job on. But he insisted that, far from being a disadvantage, this was in fact something of a recommendation. In following in the footsteps of my three predecessors (all, as it happens, personal friends) I am eager to do all I can to ensure that my occupancy of the editorial chair will not prove him (and OUP) to have been mistaken.

As must be true of any historian of Britain, the Oxford DNB and its predecessor have always been an essential part of my working life; and I can vividly recall the precise moment at which that relationship (rather inauspiciously) began. As a Cambridge undergraduate, I once mentioned to one of my supervisors that I greatly admired the zest, brio, and elan of J.H. Plumb’s brief life of the earl of Chatham, which I had been given a few years before as a school prize. ‘Oh’, he sniffily replied, ‘there’s no original research there; Plumb got it all from the DNB.’ Of course, I had heard of something called DNA; but what, I wondered, was this (presumably non-molecular) sequel called the DNB? Since I was clearly expected to know, I didn’t dare ask; but I soon found out, and so began a lifelong friendship.

Professor Sir David Cannadine, image courtesy of the ODNB editorial team.
Professor Sir David Cannadine, image courtesy of the ODNB editorial team.

During my remaining undergraduate days, as I worked away in the reading room of the Cambridge University Library, the DNB became a constant source of solace and relief: for when the weekly reading list seemed overwhelming, or the essay-writing was not going well, I furtively sought distraction by pulling a random volume of the DNB off the reference shelves. As a result, I cultivated what Leslie Stephen (founding editor of the Dictionary’s Victorian edition) called ‘the great art of skipping’ from one entry to another, and this remains one of the abiding pleasures provided by the DNB’s hard-copy successor. Once I started exploring the history of the modern British aristocracy, the DNB also became an invaluable research tool, bringing to life many a peer whose entry in Burke or Debrett was confined to the barest biographical outline.

Thus approached and appreciated, it was very easy to take the DNB for granted, and it was only when I wrote a lengthy essay on the volume covering the years 1961 to 1970, for the London Review of Books in 1981, that I first realized what an extraordinary enterprise it was and, indeed, had always been since the days when Leslie Stephen first founded it almost one hundred years before. I also came to appreciate how it had developed and evolved across the intervening decades, and I gained some understanding of its strengths—and of its weaknesses, too. So I was not altogether surprised when OUP bravely decided to redo the whole Dictionary, and the DNB was triumphantly reborn as the ODNB—first published almost exactly 10 years ago—to which I contributed the biographies on George Macaulay Trevelyan and Noel Annan.

Since 2004 the Oxford DNB has continued to expand its biographical coverage with three annual online updates, the most recent of which appeared last week. In September 2013 I wrote a collective entry on the Calthorpe family for an update exploring the history of Birmingham and the Black Country, and I am eager to remain an intermittent but enthusiastic contributor now that I am editor. As we rightly mark and celebrate the tenth anniversary of the publication of the ODNB, and its successful continuation across the intervening decade, it is clear that I take over an enterprise in good spirits and an organization (as the Americans would say) in good shape. Within the United Kingdom and, indeed, around the world, the ODNB boasts an unrivalled global audience and an outstanding array of global contributors; and I greatly look forward to keeping in touch, and to getting to know many of you better, in the months and years to come.

Headline image credit: ODNB, online. Image courtesy of the ODNB editorial team.

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22. This is 40.

You can't have him; he's mine.

(Happy birthday, darlin'.)

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23. Interview with Travel Writer – Savannah Grace

It’s back! Author Interview Thursday is back. And my special guest to open this season is Savannah Grace who was on the hot seat back in August 2013.Savannah Grace - Travel Author Savannah is a travel writer and has visited close to (if not more than) a hundred countries. Her first book ‘Sihpromatum – How I Grew my Boobs in China‘ has more than 250 glowing reviews on Amazon and has featured on several bestseller categories. Her latest book ‘Siphromatum – Backpacks and Bra Straps‘ was released a few days ago. I was privileged to have an Advanced Review Copy and have begun reading it. Like her first book, it’s filled with exotic locations and adventures from various countries. Savannah was so kind to stop by today and answer a few questions of mine. So without further ado, let’s get right to it.


In what country did you find the friendliest people?

I find all of the “est” questions the most difficult. The people in Mongolia really stand out as some of the friendliest people on earth. Despite having so little, they have the biggest heart and happily share everything they can, or more, with others. While I was in Mongolia, I learned that, “There is no word for stranger. Only friends that haven’t met.”


What was the most useful item you bought while travelling?

Replacing my journals when they were full. I can’t think of anything more useful than paper and a pen. Recollection through the written word, is the most insightful and educational.


How does Backpacks and Bra Straps differ from How I Grew My Boobs in China - Your first book?Backpacks and Bra Straps

With some experience under our belts, and a real, mutual passion for travel, in “Backpacks and Bra Straps” our travels become more intense and daring than in “I Grew My Boobs in China”. In the first book I focused on the departure and drastic change of leaving our normal lives and how I grew both physically and mentally. Now, there is less whining from me, and I go into more depth on each of the other characters. We venture into more remote lands and see one of the most life changing sights; The sunrising over Mt. Everest. All the while, I stay true to the Sihpromatum series which means “A blessing that initially appears to be a curse”.


What is your top travel tip?

Don’t take things personally and be willing to embrace change and different mentalities, morals and cultures. Travel is a chance to wear someone else’s shoes, and remember that you are in their country.


Where have you made more connections: Facebook or Twitter?

I have had Facebook much longer than Twitter and have many close friends there, but Twitter is a much broader network, and I have undoubtedly made more connections through Twitter. When I form a strong bond on Twitter I will most often invite them over to FaceBook.


What part of this book made you very emotional as you recollected what you went through?

Oh, this is a great question. Putting myself back on those many trains and buses, and reliving the emotions I felt as a teenager in such remote lands was sometimes an emotional ride. Homesickness, while looking up at the stars. Or the unforgettable trek through the Himalayas to see Mount Everest.


Camels or donkeys?Mauritania

Haha, camels. They are much more exotic. They both make annoying noises, but camels sound like they come from another planet.


What was the last film you saw?

No joke, “Gone with the Wind”. What a coincidence!!! An absolutely fantastic movie and even better book. Highly, highly recommended.


Tell us of a funny experience you had in this book?

An unexpected funny moment was when my lovestruck brother proposed to a Russian/Kazakh girl he’d met less than 24 hours earlier on a bus.


What can we expect next from Savannah Grace next?suriname jungles

There’s so much more coming. I have so many stories still left to tell. The next instalment “Rusty Tracks and Booby Traps” will cover our steps through The Maldives, Sri Lanka and vibrant, never sleeping India. Staying with a probable drug lord and his 3 wives and 18 children in Afghanistan, an extensive overland journey circumnavigating Africa and submerging myself back into “normal life” and my first romance, are only a few examples of what’s left to come in the Sihpromatum series.

In current time, I am planning to go on a 4-6 month backpacking trip through South East Asia that I will be documenting in depth.


Fantastic! Thanks for sharing with us today Savannah. Please click the link below to get your own copy (as an ebook or paperback) and discover something new about our world through Savannah’s tales.

Grab a copy of Siphromatum – Backpacks and Bra Straps

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24. Youth suicide and bullying: what’s the connection?

The role of bullying in suicide among our young people has been intensely scrutinized in both media and research. As the deleterious impacts on mental and physical health for both perpetrators and targets—suicide being the most severe—become more evident, calls for framing of the problem from a public health framework have increased. A scientifically grounded educational and public health approach to both bullying and suicide prevention is required.

So let’s look at the science regarding the connection between bullying and suicide. As with most highly emotional phenomena, there has been a tendency to both overstate and minimize the connection. As Jeffrey Duong and Catherine Bradshaw point out: while the prevalence of bullying is high (approximately 20% to 28%), “most children who are bullied do not become suicidal.” At the same time, children who have been bullied have an increased risk of mental and physical problems. Melissa Holt warns us that bullying should be considered one of several factors that increase a young persons risk for suicide. We must be careful, though, not to confuse correlation with causation. That is to say, that bullying most typically has an indirect effect on a young person taking their life, rather than being the sole cause. Finally, the suicide rate (both attempts and completions) among our young people is unacceptably high and requires systematic efforts for prevention and intervention.

Bullying is an abuse of power. By definition, bullying is seen as behavior that is intended to be hurtful and targets individuals perceived to be weaker and unable to defend themselves. Bully can be direct and face-to-face, or may be conducted through social media. Amanda Nickerson and Toni Orrange Trochia reviewed recent research showing that all children involved in bullying (targets, perpetrators, and those who are both) are at higher risk for mental health problems and subsequently higher risk for suicidal behavior. This risk increases with repeated involvement in bullying and, for targets, the belief that they are alone in their plight. At the same time, social environments (community, school, family, peer) that support differences and caring relationship provide greater protection from the harmful effects of bullying.

Excluded Sad Girl Is Looking The Group Talking
Excluded girl. © SimmiSimons via iStock.

While the question of who gets bullied and why is complicated, we know that some groups are more likely to be the target of bullying than others. Those children who present themselves as “different” are more likely targets than those who fit in comfortably to school norms. Children from stigmatized or marginalized groups, including those with psychiatric problems, physical disabilities, sexual and gender minorities, are at higher risk for being targets of bullying and for suicidal behavior. Again, individuals from stigmatized groups with higher community, school, and family support fare better than those who perceive themselves to face torment alone.

A cultural perspective is important to understand the connection between bullying and suicide. The research on the complexity of ethnic differences in bullying and suicide is sparse and in some cases contradictory. By paying attention to bullying behaviors that happen between people of different ethnic groups and those that exist within the same ethnic group, a clearer picture arises. Different cultural patterns related to aggression and emotion expression help to understand and decode what behaviors warrant being labeled “bullying” within different cultures. Differences between ethnic groups of youth need to be taken into consideration when trying to understand whether bullying and/or suicidal behavior are on the increase. Finally, specific care and attention must be paid to the risk of both suicide and bullying among sexual and gender minority youth. Both of these groups are among the highest at risk.

In conclusion, even one suicide death that is triggered by a recent torment of bullying is too many. As we move to better our responses to the threat of suicide due to bullying, we are assisted by the careful scientific exploration of differential risk and protective factors. By taking community oriented, culturally informed approaches, we believe that current interventions can be improved and new interventions can be created.

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25. Prize: Goldsmiths Prize shortlist

       They've announced the six-title shortlist for this year's Goldsmiths Prize -- a £10,000-prize: "awarded to a book that is deemed genuinely novel and which embodies the spirit of invention that characterises the genre at its best".
       A pretty interesting-looking mix -- and one of the titles is actually already under review at the complete review (In the Light of What We Know, by Zia Haider Rahman), with another soon to follow (How to be both, by Ali Smith).
       The shortlist was selected from 119 entered novels -- a list they sadly/disappointingly/inexplicably apparently have not made public.
       And see also Leo Robson on All must have prizes ! How the Goldsmiths and Folio awards are changing the literary landscape in the New Statesman.

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