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Every year as September winds down, I like to give a little birthday party for the blog. She's nine years old now and half a million views from her beginnings in 2007 as a class project.
The blog has connected me to you, dear readers, over the years and continues to call me - even if I resist her siren song far more in semi-retirement.
Thanks for all your support and friendship. I still can't promise more frequent posts but we shall see what next year brings.
Here is a list of 100 writing blogs along with a description of their contents.
The Sydney Taylor Book Award will be celebrating and showcasing its 2016 gold and silver medalists with a Blog Tour, February 8-12, 2016! Interviews with winning authors and illustrators will appear on a wide variety of Jewish and kidlit blogs. For those of you who have not yet experienced a Blog Tour, it’s basically a virtual book tour. Instead of going to a library or bookstore to see an author or illustrator speak, you go to a website on or after the advertised date to read an author’s or illustrator’s interview.
Below is the schedule for the 2016 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour. Please follow the links to visit the hosting blogs on or after their tour dates, and be sure to leave them plenty of comments!
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2016
Ketzel the Cat by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Amy June Bates
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
At Ann Koffsky's Blog
Serendipity's Footsteps by Suzanne Nelson
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2016
Adam & Thomas by Aharon Appelfeld, translated by Jeffrey M. Green, illustrated by Philippe Dumas
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Older Readers Category
At Jewish Books for Kids with Barbara Bietz
Hereville by Barry Deutsch
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category
At Jewish Comics
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2016
The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
At The Prosen People
Shanghai Sukkah by Heidi Smith Hyde, illustrated by Jing Jing Tsong
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
At Kristi's Book Nook
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2016
Everybody Says Shalom by Leslie Kimmelman, illustrated by Talitha Shipman
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
At Book Q&A's with Deborah Kalb
Stones on a Grave by Kathy Kacer
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
At Randomly Reading
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2016
Blog Tour Wrap-Up with all authors and illustrators
At The Whole Megillah
By: Hannah Paget,
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, Elaine Chukan Brown
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, Jancis Robinson
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Can Instagram really sell wine? The answer is, yes, though perhaps indirectly. In recent years the advent of social media, considered to be the second stage of the Internet’s evolution – the Web 2.0, has not only created an explosion of user-generated content but also the decline of expert run media. It’s a change that has led to the near demise of print media.
The post Wine and social media appeared first on OUPblog.
Blog: YALSA - Young Adult Library Services Association
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Happy End of Summer and Back-to-School!
I’m so excited to be sharing my first YALSA President’s Report!
It’s been a whirlwind since ALA Annual, and here’s what I’ve been working on since then:
Done & Done!
- Appointments to Edwards, Printz & Nonfiction Committees
- Assigning Board liaisons to Strategic, Selection & Award Committees
- Assign Board Members to Standing Board Committees
- Column for Fall 2015 issue of YALS
- Virtual training for New YALSA Board members
- YALSA blog post on Presidential Initiative: 3-2-1 Impact! Inclusive & Impactful Teen Services
- Worked with YALSA Board to appoint Renee McGrath to fill Krista McKenzie’s vacancy on the YALSA Board
- Had first call with the Whole Mind Group, who YALSA is working with on Strategic Planning
- With Chris Shoemaker, hosted first monthly chat with the YALSA Board, where we discussed YALSA’s Standing Board Committees
- Interviewed candidates for Member Managers for the Hub blog and Teen Programming HQ; appointed Molly Wetta as new Hub Member Manager and Jessi Snow as new Teen Programming HQ Member Manager
Works in Progress
- Filling Strategic Committee vacancies
- Filling Rachel McDonald’s Board vacancy
- Appointing YALSA representatives to ALA groups
- Strategic Planning
- Preparing for YALSA’s YA Services Symposium & Fall Executive Committee meetings
- Seeking content experts for Teen Programming HQ
- Seeking out partnerships with ALA ethnic caucuses, ALA LGBT Round Table, ASCLA, Wattpad, National Writing Project, Connected Learning Alliance, DeviantArt and more
Media & Outreach
Stats & Data
- Friends of YALSA raised $1,155 in June 2015
- Friends of YALSA raised $436 in July 2015
- Membership: 5,113 (down -0.3% over this time last year)
- Oct. 1 - Deadline to submit a volunteer form to be on YALSA's upcoming award, selection and strategic committees! More information here
Last, but certainly not least -
- All of our members for all that you do to support teens and teen library services in your communities, every day!
- Chris Shoemaker, YALSA’s immediate Past President, for passing the torch and mentoring current President-Elect Sarah Hill
- YALSA’s ALA Annual 2015 Local Arrangements Committee, for a terrific job coordinating travel tips & info and local YALSA events in San Francisco
- YALSA Board, for your hard work, leadership and enthusiasm - I know it's going to be a great year!
- YALSA Staff, especially Beth Yoke, Letitia Smith & Nichole O'Connor, for your assistance and support with association logistics
Until next time!
Candice Mack, YALSA President
Setting up and participating in a blog tour is an excellent way to get the word out about your book.
And this is Maria Popova who will gladly pick it each and every Sunday morning if you register to receive Brain Pickings, her weekly free website digest that I promise you offers unlimited inspiration to keep you keepin’ on – personally, professionally and any way you need to.
Ms. Popoval, “a cartographer of meaning in a digital world,” continues to offer visitors to her website “an inventory of cross-disciplinary interestingness, spanning art, science, design, history, philosophy and more.”
The Sunday digest offers the week’s most “unmissable” articles. Here’s who and what came my way last Sunday, May 17:
Wendell Berry on How to Be a Poet and a Complete Human Being
The Heart and the Bottle (by Oliver Jeffers): A Tender Illustrated Fable of What Happens When We Deny Our Difficult Emotions
The Magic of Moss and What It Teaches Us About the Art of Attentiveness to Life at All Scales
I owe fellow writer and friend Ellen Reagan untold thanks for first connecting me to
what’s now my weekly dose of inspiration, insights and mind-whirling knowledge I never even knew I needed to have.
“WOW’s!” and sighs and smiles and “I didn’t know that’s!” usually punctuate my first reading of the digest. At the end of the day, I return to save/copy to my journal particularly relevant and/or meaningful quotes and lines - about life, love, children, work, writing, disappointment, joy, wonder, marriage, you-name-it. Throughout the week that follows I find myself forwarding at least one article or quote to someone I care about. You can listen here to Maria Popova talk about how and why she created Brain Pickings.
You’ll be so happy she did.
And do subscribe to the weekly digest. You’ll be so happy you did.
Happy Brain Pickings!
You can also savor Maria Popova's delicious and nourishing fare via Facebook and Twitter.
(www.facebook.com/brainpickings.mariapopova/Brain Pickings @brainpickings
Pizza Rolls not Gender Roles
Last week to celebrate Woman’s History Month several Youtube personalities created videos highlighting some of the issues with America’s gender norms.
One of the vloggers, Kristina Horner, created a video about how YA literature has become gendered. From different covers to how we label genre’s there are many ways subtle clues are sent to potential readers about what books they are meant to read.
Part of the vlog was inspired by Maureen Johnson’s article in Huffington Post talking about how boys were excluded from reading her books and attending author visits.
Goodreads released an infograph last year indicated that 80% of a female author's readers will be woman. Remembering the goodread article, after watching the video I had a conversation with my husband who is a fantasy/SciFi reader. We went through our reading lists from the past year and discovered that I’d read mostly female authors and he’d read mostly male. Of the woman authors he did read, they were books I had recommended to him.
I realized that not only should I be more proactive in promoting good books to my teens, but maybe I should create a blind date with a book that highlights female authors. My library did something like this for Valentine’s day for adults, and the display was frequently desolate since everyone kept taking the books home.
If nothing else, I plan to share books written by female authors with my coworkers, so they can recommend them in reader’s advisory moments.
The female authors I read in 2014:
- Leigh Bardugo
- Holly Black
- Gail Carriger
- Rae Carson
- Kiera Cass
- Joelle Charbonneau
- Rosamund Hodge
- A.G. Howard
- Amie Kaufman
- Lucy Knisley
- Melina Marchetta
- Lauren Oliver
- Liz Prince
- Rainbow Rowell
- Maria Semple
- G. Willow Wilson
Today Original Content begins a six-week stint as one of the Featured Blogs at the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators website. Look at the blogroll right there on the main page.
I have the best staff in the world. I know all you other youth services managers think your staff is the greatest, but I'm here to tell you that while you might have an awesome staff, my youth services staff is truly amazing. I am constantly inspired by all they do and I feel so lucky to get to work with them every day.
Two of my amazing staff members have blogs that you really need to check out!
Pamela is one of my staff members who has a passion for tween services. She and one of my other staff, Miss. A, team up regularly to provide very fun and creative tween programs. We've always tried to provide programs for this age group, but with Pamela and Miss A as our tween power team, they are making it happen! She recently published an article with VOYA on last year's summer tween programs. She also works on our tween book groups and is pursuing her MLS and is already a fantastic librarian. The Moose is her favorite animal, which means anytime we get a new Moose picture book, it goes straight to Pamela!
I knew Valerie from the library world before she started working at my library and every time I got to talk to her, I thought she was so cool. So I was thrilled and delighted when she wanted to join our team! She is our teen librarian and she is bringing lots of energy and creativity into our teen department and I love watching her interact with the teens. She has great passive programs and is one of the most geekily awesome people I know. Valerie also loves Star Wars, Cosplay, and Sherlock which makes her even more cool.
Check out their blogs and they write about library programs, book reviews, and adventures in the library. They are both fantastic resources! I am lucky to have them!
How do you work with book bloggers to get them interested in reviewing your book?
By: LAURIE WALLMARK,
Blog: Just the Facts, Ma'am
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Blog: An Awfully Big Blog Adventure
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, Ben Aaronovitch
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, Kathleen Hale
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A few weeks ago, a young American first-time author, Kathleen Hale, unleashed a bit of a social media storm by publishing a piece in The Guardian about the increasingly vexed online relationship between authors and bloggers. The article (here) which ran in the Saturday magazine, detailed how she became obsessed by one of her online critics, a blogger called Blythe Harris. When Hale engaged with Blythe's criticism's of her book (despite the many, many warnings she received that authors should not answer back to bad reviews), Blythe and many of her fellow bloggers apparently turned on her and Hale found herself labelled a BBA - a badly behaved author. For Hale (and I should emphasise that we only get Hale's perspective on what happened here), Blythe was wilfully malicious, ruining the reception of her book, and using her clique of friends and fellow bloggers to trash Hale's reputation. In return, Hale details her own increasing obsession with Blythe - an obsession which rapidly moved from what she termed 'light stalking' (gathering any and every detail she could from Blythe's online presence) to what by any standards is just plain stalking - using subterfuge to gain access to Blythe's real-life identity, workplace address and home address.
It's a sorry tale, and I'm not going to rehash the Hale case here, but it did make me think about the business of social media, writers, bloggers and boundaries. Authors, as Hale notes, are encouraged to get online and have a social media presence, but their natural audience, book bloggers and fans, seem quite often to resent authors turning up on their turf and, as they see it, throwing their weight around. A while ago, as a bit of a newbie author, I brushed up against a similar controversy when I noticed an online discussion on a book blogger's site about one of Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London
I'm a bit of a fan of this series, and was interested to see that the author had stopped by and commented, explaining where some of the features the blogger was discussing had come from in the writing process. It was (I thought) a perfectly polite contribution, and not in the least critical of her analysis, simply adding a bit of background information. But it caused an immediate storm, in which I was very slightly caught up, having added a comment of my own about the strange ways the writing process worked. For some of the following commentators, writers were simply not welcome on a book blogging site - they were guilty of abusing the power they had as authors to dominate a space that was not for them. Book blogs and fan sites should be considered a space for fans and book lovers to freely express themselves and not somewhere authors should feel free to gatecrash.
It was all resolved fairly amicably - Ben Aaronovitch backed down with a bit of grumbling, and I apologised profusely for being new to all this and not understanding the rules of the game. But the Hale article did bring this experience back to me.
What both examples make clear, I think, is that engaging in discussion with other people on social media is now the easiest thing in the world to do, but that it's also potentially perilous - what seems to be a simple opening gambit in a conversation can quickly become a reason for several people you've never met to decide they hate you. And thinking about why this is, made me realise that it's partly about the lack of social clues we have online.
Picture this: an author walks into a cafe, orders a coffee, and then realises that at the table next to him are six women, clearly friends, all discussing why they don't really like his new book. He would have to be completely mad or utterly self-obsessed to lean across and say, "Excuse me, ladies, that point you've just made is very interesting, but as the author, I'd have to say you've misunderstood my intention...." More likely, he'd hide behind a newspaper, or slink out. It's not his place to push into a group which is clearly bounded by longstanding interactions and mutual exchange of opinions. On the web, though, it's hard to see those boundaries, easier to think this is a discussion open to anyone who happens to wander past.
We've probably all had the experience of adding comments on a forum discussion, only to have what we've said utterly ignored as the next commentator simply replies to the one before you, and the next one carries on as if you never said anything. It feels like a snub (it is a snub) - but if this were real life, the group discussing this burning issue would be that bunch of students who always occupy the table in the corner of the canteen, looking daggers at anyone who even thinks about sitting next to them - and we wouldn't be in the least surprised if they ignored our comment. (We'd almost certainly never make it in the first place.)
|Would you interrupt the conversation?|
As social animals, we have built up over generations the ability to detect the smallest social clues about other people and groups around us. The kinds of interaction we engage in with other people are largely determined by our previous interactions with them, their status as friends or family or work colleagues. Even with total strangers we can use visible clues like dress, body language, expression, context, to judge what is or isn't appropriate. All these help us to 'see' the boundaries that we would be transgressing and the trouble we could be causing if we were to be, for example, inappropriately intimate or aggressive or opinionated.
The trouble with social media is these clues are just not there. We've only had access to this multitude of potential conversations with strangers for a very short time, and people appear on it as little more than speech. Speech which is devoid of accents, of voice, of clues about who this person is. It's like wandering in a dark fog, listening to many voices all talking at random - but the people behind the voices are invisible. So we have to make guesses about what kinds of people they are, and whether we are gatecrashing through an invisible boundary, or striking up a conversation with someone genuinely interested in talking to us.
Those speaking to each other on a forum, a blog, on Goodreads, can appear as simply a bunch of individuals interested in the same topic, a bunch of reasonable, open individuals who would welcome a newcomer to their midst. Sometimes that is exactly what they are. But sometimes, the invisible boundaries are as fierce as barbed wire, and we cross them at our peril.
The way invisible boundaries are so difficult to negotiate sometimes makes me want to give up on all forms of online interaction. Like Liz Kessler, who posted recently about social media on ABBA (here
), I have considered just ditching all of it in favour of interactions in real life only. But, in the end, I don't, because so far I've managed to negotiate those boundaries more or less unscathed, and in the process I've 'met' some really brilliant people (some of whom I've gone on to really meet).
The fact is, most people on social media ARE open, engaged, reasonable and friendly, and, if you transgress an invisible boundary, they are usually polite enough to just inform you gently that you're in the wrong place. But I do think it's important to be aware that just because those boundaries are invisible, doesn't mean they are not there - and when you find a clear notice that says "Authors (or whoever) are Not Welcome Beyond this Point", it probably pays to respect it.
C.J. Busby writes funny, fast-paced fantasy for children aged 7-12. Her latest books, Dragon Amber, is published by Templar.www.cjbusby.co.uk@ceciliabusby
I’ve been online since April, 1995. Quit my job at HarperCollins, bought a modem, unwrapped one of those AOL starter disks that were ubiquitous in the middle of that decade, created an account—screen name LissaNY—and I was off and running. After my free trial ran out, I think we had something like five hours of dialup a week? Ten, twelve at most? Does that sound right? Whatever the cheapest package was.
Not long after that, Scott’s company (DC Comics, subsidiary of Time Warner, which bought AOL) gave all employees a free AOL account with unlimited minutes. His screen name was StratNY, in honor of his Stratocaster. I spent a lot of time on that account, reading the pregnancy and new baby boards, waiting for Jane to arrive. She was two weeks late. By the time she was born, I had a network of invisible friends—many of whom are still friends to this very day. One by one, we delivered our babies and moved to the Baby’s Here, Now What? board. After a while, we jumped to a listserv—this big group of us who’d had babies within a four- or five-month window. Nineteen years later, more than a dozen of those women are still chatting via email every single day. On Facebook, too, but mostly on the list. We’ve met in person, in various configurations, numerous times. Our babies are in college now.
There was a big schism on the listserv around the time Jane was 18 months old. A lot of women left, and I’ve lost track of most of them. I still remember things they wrote, though, back in those days. I remember the names of their kids. When Jane was diagnosed with leukemia at 21 months, a big group of the women who’d left our original list joined forces to send us a giant box of treats from Zabar’s. Several friends from the original list visited me in the hospital, traveling from New Jersey, Boston, and even Chicago. Another woman we knew on AOL, though I don’t think she was part of the listserv, died of complications after childbirth, so horrifying, and we all made squares for a quilt for the baby. I guess that would have been before the schism, because I remember one of the departees, a New Yorker, being interviewed on the TV news about the group effort for the quilt. They shot footage of her sitting at her computer, typing a post to our group. It was such a novelty then, newsworthy, all these strangers behaving like friends. I’m not sure the reporter was convinced we actually were friends.
We are, though.
Somewhere in my first few months of being online, I began poking around the education boards. People were already asking us where we planned to send the baby to school. School? I was still trying to master the art of burping her. I flailed around a bit, reading about private vs private and whatnot, and then suddenly I discovered the homeschooling boards and our lives were never to be the same. Home Education Magazine was active on the AOL hs’ing boards back then—moderated them or something like that—and I remember Helen Hegener being a presence. And Sandra Dodd, whose kids were pretty young at the time, but she was already speaking with conviction and wisdom. Pam Sarooshian was another voice who stuck out. I seldom chimed in, I was mostly reading while nursing my infant, but boy howdy was I taking notes, mental and otherwise. I subscribed to Growing Without Schooling magazine and ordered a bunch of back issues to boot. To my mind, GWS prefigures homeschooling blogs—all those parents writing in to share details about their families’ learning adventures. I always cite John Holt, John Taylor Gatto, Charlotte Mason, and Sandra Dodd as the big influences on my ideas about home education, but probably the greatest influence was GWS: reading dozens of letters by parents in the trenches about the myriad ways their kids were learning outside school. That magazine was a revelation. OH I SEE, was my overwhelming response to the first issue I read. I GET IT. THIS IS FOR US.
I made a friend on the AOL hs’ing boards, Pam, whose son had the same birthday as Jane. We were in close daily touch for years, and when Jane got sick Pam sent the most amazing gifts for the hospital. A little box of things from nature—driftwood, beeswax, beans, seeds—pieces of nature Jane could touch and smell from her bed. We still have it, all those beans and twigs intact. There was a vanilla bean, too, inside a corked tube; I remember how its lovely scent would rise above the smell of betadine and latex. Pam also made a little comb-bound, laminated book full of pictures of road signs. Her son loved street signs and she thought Jane might enjoy them too. She did, she read that book—I almost said “to pieces” except it was so well constructed it, too, is still intact.
A year or so later, I found yahoogroups and joined a whole bunch of homeschooling lists. Friends I made there, too, are still with me. Like, really with me, besties. One of them became Huck’s godmother. Eventually email lists became discussion boards (and fraught with endless drama), and bit by bit some of those faded to silence as many of us migrated to blogs and, later, Facebook. Other boards are still active, and I’m the one who faded away. I moved here, to my little homestead on the internet. January will be ten years. I built my first website the summer before I started the blog, so that’s ten years ago exactly.
Blogs brought new friends. Most of you who comment regularly here are friends given to me by Bonny Glen. Sometimes I go back and reread a friend’s blog from the beginning, if the archives are public. What heady days those were! Sharing with abandon, forming blog-rings so we could hop from one to the next in a long, delightful chain. I miss blog-rings! The little “previous | next | random” links at the bottom of the page. I was crazy about that “random” feature—it was like a teleporter. Click! Here I am in someone’s kitchen! Look, she’s making a pie!
I was thinking about the early days today because I had it in my head to write a post called “Things I’ve Learned About My Online Life.” Number 1 was: BLOG FIRST. (I never got to number 2.) This struck me because I’m realizing I turned my old writing pattern upside down, and it’s got me feeling unsettled and less productive. In the early days—years—I used the blog as my transition from Mom time to Writer time. Writing about the kids (i.e., about momming) for 20 minutes helped me shift from one mode to the other. By the end of a post, I was fully in writing mode and could turn my attention to the next chapter of Martha or Charlotte. It was a pattern that worked beautifully for me, through many novels.
Now my online time is splintered between many activities—editing, researching, banking, socializing, writing, blogging, taking classes, watching compilations of 80s commercials (you know, important stuff)—and I’ve begun to feel wistful about the simpler days of yore. Olden times, when I was astonishingly productive, writing posts for not one but as many as FOUR blogs (Bonny Glen, Lilting House, daily notes, private family blog), two fat historical novels and several early readers a year, dozens of freelance articles, and thousands of words a week in discussions of homeschooling methods and philosophy. Good gravy, that was a lot of writing.
WordPress tells me I’ve published 3,081 posts here at Bonny Glen. That tally includes Lilting House, too, which I folded into this site when ClubMom shut down. I can’t begin to guess how many words that is, especially if you add in the lengthy replies I used to make in the comments. Hundreds of thousands. (ETA: Scott, doing some quick math, reckons I’ve posted upwards of two MILLION words here. Yow.) Enough for a book, several books probably. I have it in mind to collect some essays from the site for a book on tidal homeschooling at some point, a mix of new content and old posts. The trouble is, whenever I start to work on it, I find myself wanting to turn each new essay into a post instead—blogging spoils you with the instant readership, the immediate connections. Writing about tidal homeschooling without all of you chiming in in the comments feels so lonely!
And yet I’d like to persevere and make it happen. Sometimes I think the book I’d like to write isn’t about homeschooling—it’s about the online life, about these text-first connections that become real relationships. Or, well, what I’d really like is to write both books. I got my first baby and my first modem in the same month. (Practically.) I don’t know, have not experienced, motherhood separate from the internet. There’s a story there. New parents now give thought to the Google-factor when naming their babies; some parents buy domain names and lock down gmail addresses even before the child is born. That’s practical, I get it. But I realize I and some of my friends—some of —occupy this narrow, unique sliver of parenthood: the space belonging to the parents who got online first. We didn’t know (or hardly experienced) parenting without the internet. But we grew up without it, and we remember what a world-shift coming online was for us. We may have as many friends online as off. We’ve watched each other’s children grow up through the word-pictures we sketched on discussion boards and elists, the photos we pepper our social media feeds with, and—integrating words and pictures—on our blogs.
Blog first, I’m telling myself. Not with agenda, not toward any purpose other than chronicling the adventure and integrating the two dominant sides of myself. The mother, the writer. “Blogger” is such an unlovely word but it strikes me that it more than any other identifier unites those two parts of me. My blog pulls all my pieces together. It’s the home ground I return to after venturing out into new worlds. I suppose I should have thought up this post five months from now, on its tenth anniversary. But if I’ve learned anything from blogging, it’s: Write it down today, while the thought is fresh. Scheduling a topic for later turns the post into an assignment, which dramatically lowers the odds of its eventual completion. (I really am working on getting that habits post up, though!)
There! It took me all those words to figure out what I needed to know. Blog first—that’s the thought I began with. Blog fresh—that’s what my brain was trying to puzzle out. Blog lightly, in a manner of speaking—not in the sense of avoiding deep or serious topics, but without that sense of pressure and polish that rules the rest of my writing life. So now I guess I’ve gone and written a New Year’s Resolution five months early, too. Blog freehand. How funny this is—I didn’t even know I needed to give myself a talking-to!
Kidlitosphere Central contains links to a wealth of children's and young adult blogs.
To run and race your best it’s critical you’ve got the right mindset. Dr. Jim Afremow has made it his mission to help runners and athletes of all sports hone their mental training. Just as important and the physical workouts, an athlete’s mind can create a champion or turn into one’s own worst enemy. I wanted interview Dr. Afremow both because I respect his body of work and level of expertise and also because, let’s be honest, the psychology of our sport in straight-up fascinating! Often time elite athletes have trouble putting into words exactly how they get into gamer mode…so read on to hear a mental game’s coach put words to the ability:
JIM AFREMOW, Ph.D.
1) What got you started in athletics, and what were your favorite sports growing up?
I grew up on sports and physical activity primarily through my father who appreciated the importance of having an active lifestyle. He especially enjoyed hiking, mountain climbing, and participating in Masters track and field. As a youth, my favorite sports included track and field, soccer, and golf.
2) How did you foray into becoming a mental games coach and working on the sports psychology end of the spectrum?
Sports psychology provides the perfect opportunity to bridge two of my passions: sports and psychology. I have always been fascinated by human behavior and how all of us can learn to reach our greatest potential. I earned a doctorate in sports psychology and a Master’s in counseling, both at Michigan State University.
3) You work with a variety of athletes in different sports, but in working with runners what are some of the most common mental hurdles they struggle with?
Mental toughness is equally import to physical strength when it comes to shining in sports. Adversity strikes all athletes in different ways at different times. Runners must learn how to stay focused and confidently move through any kind of setback, such as a mental block, performance plateau, prolonged slump, or injury. They must also develop ways to reduce off-field issues or concerns that interfere with their training and races.
4) Confidence is a big one with runners and racing, and confidence tends to ebb and flow, be it after bad workouts or ongoing injuries. What are some of the techniques you use to help runners rebuild and remain confident in themselves and their abilities?
Confidence is a beautiful thing! Confidence in yourself and your athletic ability is critical to performing your best when it matters most. One strategy for boosting your confidence is to remember a particular occasion when you triumphed over a difficult challenge and write about how you made it happen—memory is the prelude to memorable performances.
5) Race day nerves tends to be another big one, what are some of your suggestions for keeping your racing nerves in check?
First and foremost, understand that pre-performance anxiety is how our body readies itself to perform at its peak. So, recognize anxiety for what it is―that’s how humans are made. If you know that, it helps to normalize race day nerves. My new book The Champion’s Mind presents scores of practical tips to help you harness anxiety and use it to your advantage.
6) In running and in athletics in general what is something you feel is an especially crucial mental component in being your best, if not THE best?
Have a big-picture goal and chip away at each and every day. “When you’re good at something, make that everything,” said tennis legend Roger Federer. All it takes is all you’ve got!
7) What’s your favorite mental tip for runners to race and run their best?
During competition, the key word is “performance” because if you focus on performing (rather than on any results or other extraneous factors), then you’re totally in the present. Being in the present and staying purposeful lets you “own the moment” and maximize your abilities.
8) What was the greatest lesson or piece of advice you’ve been given either from a mentor, teacher, or athlete that you’ve applied to your work?
One important lesson is that we either win or we learn. Forget about losing and focus on continual improvement. Give yourself credit where credit is due and celebrate what you did well. But then if you didn’t do as well as you wanted, say, “What did I learn from this that’s going to help me perform better next time?”
9) Tell us about your book, your services, and your website?
The title of my new book is, “The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive” (Rodale, 2014). The Champion’s Mind explains “what” athletes can do to champion themselves and “how” they can do it. That is, how athletes can fine-tune their game mentally and emotionally to consistently perform at their best. If you want to discover how great you can be and how much fun you can have in your sport, don’t leave the mental game to chance or circumstance.
So, I provide individual and team sports psychology services for personal excellence, peak performance, and team success. Although my private practice is located in Phoenix, I work with athletes from all over the world. Important topics include confidence, concentration, composure, communication, and commitment. All athletes can and should learn how to think like a champion. For more information, please visit my website: www.goldmedalmind.net.
10)Ultimately, what is your goal in being a sports performance specialist? What gives you the most sense of pleasure and fulfillment?
To help people reach their true and full potential in sports and all other demanding endeavors. To help people grow as athletes and as people. Champions think gold and never settle for silver or bronze. They understand that personal best is their ultimate victory. Why settle for anything less?
One of the hardest parts of the writing process for me is finally submitting to agents. This entails crafting the dreaded query letter and subjecting oneself to the agony of rejection and waiting. For some lucky ones, query misery lasts a few days or months. For others, i's a much longer process, at least if the writer is pursuing traditional publishing, which I am.
One wonderful alternative to querying are online contests. Mind you, they won't let you off the hook of writing a query letter. In fact, in most of them, a query is essential. In most contests, the point is to submit a killer query or pitch or first page, or all three of them.
I've been on Twitter for a while, and every few months, I heard calls for #PitchMadness, #Pitchmass, #QueryKombat, and The Writer's Voice, among others. Every time I saw them, I vowed to inform myself a little better for the next time I had the chance to enter.
Well, I found out The Writer's Voice had a entry date on late April, and I put it on my calendar with various reminders. I entered. I have to say, I didn't escape the agony I had experienced with querying because, you see? There were almost two hundred entries for this contest, and only 32 spots for the agent round. Four coaches would pick their team of eight writers who had submitted their query and first page.
To my utter surprise, I made it into the rafflecopter pre-selection that trimmed the entries down to one-hundred and fifty. The day the coaches were announcing their teams--by commenting on the entrants' blogs--I was a nervous wreck. That night at nine, I had prepared myself not to make it to the next round. To my surprise, I made it! Elizabeth Briggs and Krista Van Dolzer chose me to be part of #TeamRockstar. They helped me hone my query and first page, and on the day of the contest, I ended up with three full manuscript requests. More importantly, I met a lot of wonderful people, from my team and the other teams, who cheered me on and inspired me with their own stories.
Right now, #QueryKombat is taking place, and honestly, even if I don't make it to the next round, I've already learned so much from the querying process! I have a better query right now and I'm more confident with my first chapter. And again, I found a wonderful community online that makes me feel less alone during this difficult times of waiting and waiting and more waiting.
Brenda Drake hosts several contests every year. I also participated of The Writer's Digest Middle Grade First Chapter Contest and #YAHugs, of which I also was a finalist. The common denominator in all of these contests has been the support of fellow writers and agents.
Here's the link to a success story from a contest. I invite you to jump into Twitter and take part of the opportunity these contests offer. For some, I've had to tweet my pitch in no more than 140 characters. And guess what? After much trying and experimenting, I was able to, and I also secured a full request this way.
If you are on Twitter, look me up. My handle is @YamileSMendez and I tweet about books (of course), diversity in books, and now with the upcoming World Cup, I'll be tweeting a lot about soccer. Now it's your turn: tell me, have had any experience with online contests? Share it with us!
The late David Markson
did not have a computer. In March 2004, Laura Sims told him that there were things written about him on blogs. He replied:
NO, I've no idea what a Blog is. BLOG?
Sims sent him print-outs:
Hey, thank you for all that blog stuff but forgive me if after a nine-minute glance I have torn it all up. I bless your furry little heart, but please don't send any more. In spite of the lost conveniences, I am all the more glad I don't have a computer.
HOW CAN PEOPLE LIVE IN THAT FIRST-DRAFT WORLD?
They make a statement about my background, there's an error in it. They quote from a book, and they leave out a key line. They repudiate a statement of fact I've made, without checking, ergo announcing I'm a fake when the statement is 100% correct. Etc., etc., etc. Gawd.
I have just taken the sheets out of the trash basket & torn them into even smaller pieces.
From the wonderful little book Fare Forward: Letters from David Markson
, edited by Laura Sims.
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Last Saturday I found myself in the company of Wookies, Jedi, sundry Game of Thrones characters, Spidermen, ogres (male and female) and a raft of other bedecked and be-axed cosplayers. I also had the pleasure of meeting some of the many wonderful YA bloggers I chat to and follow online. Yes, this was the mad and crazy glory that was the UK's first ever Young Adult Literature Convention (mixed with lashings of ComicCon). The Daily Telegraph deemed it a hit
- and barring a few gripes about the nightmare queues, the heat, the lack of seating, the audio-fails and the heaving walls of bodies blocking the way to the book lecture stage (all dying to have their photo taken with Marvelmeister Stan Lee), I loved every minute. The whole thing was dreamed up by Booktrust and our very own Children's Laureate, Malorie Blackman, and I think we should all stand up and cheer her to the steel rafters that only just kept the roof on Earls Court (the noise was ear-tingling). Much has been written about the brilliant panels and workshops elsewhere, but I want to focus on something else. Yes, those book bloggers.
With much of the newspaper industry (the Guardian being an honourable exception) giving less and less review coverage to children's and YA books, the book bloggers are our enthusiastic champions, and we need to recognise the HUGE amounts of unpaid time and energy they put into reading and then writing about our neck of the literary woods. They tweet, they discuss, they get the word out there, and I think we owe them all a great debt of gratitude - including our very own Awfully Big Review team, of course!
The post-conference 'For the Fringe' party (organised by the indomitable Sophia Bennett) was a marvellous mix of authors and bloggers - @YaYeahYeah, @Serendipity_Viv, @JessHeartsBooks, @Splendibird, @RachReviewsAll, @carlybennett, @lynseynewton
...er, in fact far too many to name-check them all here - and the level of knowledgeable bookish chat was off the scale. To meet so many enthusiastic readers was a shot in the arm for all the authors who were there, I think - and I was kept busy scribbling down new blogsites and book recommendations as well as chatting till I thought my tongue would drop off.
Another thing I discovered at YALC was The Siobhan Dowd Trust
in action. Actually, I discovered it before I even got there, while I was still on the tube. Overhearing a group of teenagers enthusing excitedly about their favourite authors (quite a lot of screaming) was another shot in the arm - and I later discovered from their librarian that they were from a Manchester school, and that their trip had been funded by the SDT. They weren't the only ones either. I found more while listening to one of the panels. They were the ones at the front, grabbing the microphone to ask intelligent and insightful questions of the panel members. This is the wonderful thing about the SDT - they give bookish kids opportunities they might not otherwise have had.
Altogether, YALC was a real eye-opener. The power of books and reading to inspire was demonstrated on a grand scale there - and while some may have felt that ComicCon was not quite the right place to have it, personally, I thought it gave the whole thing added 'buzz'. I really do hope it happens again in 2015 - I'm already planning an Egyptian costume. Be very afraid!