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1. Interview with Children’s Book Author – Rhonda Paglia

It’s Author Interview Thursday and I’d like to thank you for stopping over today.Rhonda Paglia First of all, I’d like to wish all readers and fans of this blog based in the U.S., a very Happy Thanksgiving. I promise you’ll enjoy the spread laid out today. In the hot seat today is a wonderful lady who is fondly known as ‘Grammy Pags.’ I’ve been so inspired by her energy and passion for life in the lead up to today’s interview. She has so much to share with us today, so get into your most comfortable position and join me in welcoming Rhonda Paglia.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the first time someone complemented you on something you had written.

Hi David, thank you for inviting me to be part of your Author Thursday Interview.  I’m honored, and congratulations on your new book, Billy and Monster’s Golden Christmas that is coming out soon!  Congrats!!!  You are prolific!!

Okay, a few facts about me:

  • I’ve been married to my sweet husband, Tony, for 41 years.  We have three grown children, five adorable grandchildren, and little Yorkie-poo named Bella.  She’s my shadow.
  • I’m a retired elementary teacher, [I taught 26 years], and now I’m a Grammy babysitter, a flower planter, a musician, a tap dancer, and a self-published children’s author.
  • I have received a great deal of praise for the first book I released to the public: “The Little Lambs and the Very Special Mission.”
  • I must add that growing up, I had NO confidence in my writing! NONE! ZIPPO! My writing was so bad that in 7th grade, when our English teacher gave us a story writing assignment, my mother ended up red-lining and rewriting everything I had written.  I would have gotten an F on my story, but she earned an A.  I was so embarrassed. I couldn’t look at my teacher for the rest of the year.  It was awful!  I was living a lie every day I walked into his class.  Thankfully, I’ve come a long way in my writing confidence.

 

What can a reader expect when they pick up a book written by Rhonda Paglia? Rhonda Paglia Book Signing

I’m still in the process of learning and developing my “niche.”  I’m just writing for fun.  I have learned a lot in the last two years, and I’m getting and understanding the process more.  My hope is that readers will enjoy my stories and come away with a little glow in their hearts and a little tickle in their tummy.

I want kids to learn something and to stretch their imaginations and creativity.  For example, in my crazy little book, Doonsey’s Beach Adventure, the Great Rescue, kids will find a hero in Doonsey.  They will also learn about his new friends, the “Beach Buddies.”  Our family went on a vacation to the beach.  We “met” Doonsey there.  Then I started seeing faces in the sand that were made out of the shells and stones.  My granddaughter, Sofie, and I started making a bunch of faces and the “Beach Buddies” were born!  We used shells, stones, crab claws, and other items we found on the beach.  The “Buddies” ended up as characters in the first Doonsey book and they will reappear in Book 2.  Kids can learn to make their own Buddy characters with  things they find in nature, not just stones and shells.

 

What role would you say social media plays in building an author’s platform and have you found it helpful in marketing your books? 

I’m new to the “book business” too, but everything I’ve read, indicates that Social Media has a huge impact on getting your name “out there.”  So I tweet, toot, blog, Facebook, website, and get Linkedin, as often as possible, but always feel behind.  It’s a time issue for me, as I’m sure it is for most authors.

Is marketing on Social Media helpful?  Who knows?  I’ve sold books on line, but most of my sales success has been one-on-one, face-to-face, book signing events.  It’s fun too!

 

What in your opinion makes a great children’s book? 

This is a tough one, so my answer is simple.  A GREAT book has ALL the pieces: characters, plot, setting, illustrations.

 

What were some of your favourite books as a child?

The Little Golden Books series, Caps for Sale, Country Mouse and City Mouse, Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, and all of the classic fairy tales.  I read the Wizard of Oz until the pages were falling out.  Our nearest library was miles away, but every once in a while, we were allowed to buy a comic books at the grocery story.  I loved the adventures of Little Lulu, Dot, and Casper the Friendly Ghost.  And then there is dear Dr. Seuss.  When his books became available, I loved them.  Later I branched out to the Nancy Drew mystery series and some biographies, but mostly, I loved the books that would send me away on adventures.

 

What book or film has the best dialogue that inspires you to be a better writer and why?Rhonda Paglia Books

Dr. Seuss.  I love the freedom of his language usage.  I love the rhythm and cadence of his words.  I love his stories, characters, and how he moves the plot.  Such fun and imagination!  I will never be a Dr. Seuss, but with my musical background, I find myself using rhythm and rhyme when it’s appropriate.  In my yet to be released book, “Grammy’s Rockin’ Color Rap-a-licious Rap” – Grammy’s looks prim, proper, and sophisticated, but she’s really a closet rocker!

 

How do you reward yourself once your book is published? 

I’m still very new at all of this – and currently, I’m self-published.  However, the fact that my ideas and my works are in my hands, in a form, that I can share with others, is a huge reward.  Like, “Phew!  I did it!”  The “no confidence – non-writer – F’s on story-getter – me” is now writing and publishing stories.  I never thought that would happen – certainly not the 7th grader sitting in English class lying to my teacher about a paper my mother wrote for me!  #Iamwriting!  That’s a biggie reward!

I wrote “Doonsey’s Beach Adventure, the Great Rescue” and created a companion coloring activity book for my grandchildren.  It was a Christmas surprise last year.  My heart just beamed!  Not only did I write a story and publish it for them; I got to be around to read it to them and get their reactions.  Big time reward!

 

Toy Story or Shrek?

Toy Story.  I love the characters!!  I love seeing the toys come to life, organizing themselves, tackling problems. Great fun!   I grew up in the country.  We didn’t have any close neighbors.  My friends were at school, a distance away.  I would have LOVED for my toys to come to life, be my “real” friends, and have merry adventures with them.  So definitely, Toy Story!

 

What three things should a first time visitor to Pennsylvania do? Grammy reading Doonsey to O, Ro, & So 12-26-2013

  1.  Visit Amish Country.  Lancaster, in northeast, PA, and Volant and New Wilmington in northwest PA, where I live, near, would be a cultural experience.  It’s hard to believe that we have communities within our modern society that can exist and thrive without electricity and all the conveniences that the rest of us can’t live without!  If you visit the Amish area, many of the locals have little shops in or near their farms.  Visitors can purchase colorful handmade quilted items, homemade pastries and canned goods, plants, beautiful handmade furniture, and get your horse’s harness repaired at the same time!
  2. Pymatuning Lake.  I grew up there, so I’m a little prejudiced.  Pymatuning Lake is located in northwestern PA on the border of PA and Ohio.  It is located within Pymatuning State Park and is the largest man-made lake in Pennsylvania.  The lake is 18 miles long and has over 26 square miles of lake surface.  In 1931, when my dad was 9 years old, he and my grandfather attended the ground breaking ceremonies for the lake.   They saw the first shovel full of dirt removed that would later become Pymatuning Lake Reservoir.  If you are an outdoors person, you can swim, hike, camp, fish, go boating, picnic, and explore.  But make sure you don’t miss the Pymatuning Spill Way.  That’s where you get to feed the fish!  There are so many, the duck’s walk on their backs!!
  3.  Pittsburgh, PA. It’s a cultural hub for all the arts and it’s the home of our three major league sports teams, the Steelers, the Penguins, and the Pirates.  The Strip District is in downtown Pittsburgh and is a great market place filled with lots of people, cooking street vendors, markets with fresh produce, restaurants, places to shop, and the home of the Mancini breads and the Primanti Brothers’ famous super stuffed sandwich with French fries.  Oh, and if you listen carefully, you’ll pick up some of the famous Pittsburghese language!  Fun!

With a background in teaching, can you give us a few tips on capturing a child’s attention and relaying a moral lesson?

Phew – that’s a big question!!  I may not answer your exact question, but here’s what came to mind as I reflected on it.

  • Make learning fun!  When kids are engaged, they will take more ownership for their own learning.
  • Help kids develop confidence!  I had very little confidence as a kid – all the way through adulthood.  I recognized this weakness in myself, so I made it a goal to try to help develop confidence in my own children and my students.  Kids have vivid imaginations.  I’ve found that if kids can tap into their own creativity and develop ideas – without judgment – they will develop more confidence.
  • Teach tolerance!  Everyone, kids and adults, all of us, have gifts and talents.  Our interests and abilities vary.  We are not the same.  I believe that we have all come here to share our gifts and talents, and to share our differences.  How boring we would be if we were all the same!!  Each one of us is an integral piece of a gigantic universal puzzle.

 

What do your grandchildren think of Grammy Pags the Author? Storytime with Grammy Pags

Our grandchildren are young – ages 7 to 1.5.  The younger ones don’t know what an author is.  However, our oldest grandson, Orion, totally gets it!  Orion was the inspiration for the story, “Three Little Gnomes and a Boy Named Orion.”   The story has changed from the original version I wrote in 2009.  It’s longer and beautifully illustrated by Ratna Kusuma Halim of Indonesia.  I had a book launch birthday party for “The Three Little Gnomes” book and Orion came to the event and signed books too!  He was a star for the day and loved it!!

 

What can we expect from Rhonda Paglia in the next 12 months? 

Writing, writing, writing!

 

Where can readers and fans connect with you?  Thank you for asking.  Here’s the contact info for GRAMMY PAGS STORIES

 

Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?Leana's book signing 2

  1. Have fun!  Do what you love!
  2. Frustration is part of the game.  Figure out why you are doing what you do, then figure out your goals, the reach for them.  What happens if you don’t reach?  A big NOTHING!   But if you reach, anything can happen!
  3. The kid’s book market is crazy huge.  Try to find your niche.  I’m still searching for mine!
  4. Write what you like and HAVE FUN!  For me, that’s my goal!  Girls just want to have fun!!  Well, this Grammy just wants to have fun too . . .  and maybe give my readers a few smiles!!

Wow! Thanks for sharing with us today Rhonda. I love the fact that you’ve been honest and just loving the journey. I love your advice about writing what you like and having fun. Rhonda and I would love to hear any questions or comments you may have. I hope her zest for life has been an inspiration for you as it has for me. Remember to share this interview on social media using the social buttons and grab one of Rhonda’s books at the link below

Rhonda Paglia Books on Amazon

 

2 Comments on Interview with Children’s Book Author – Rhonda Paglia, last added: 11/28/2014
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2. Show Me The Teenagers - Liz Kessler


I guess this blog might be continuing that theme in a way. It’s about social networking. Only, this time, I want to pick your brains.

Next May, I make my YA debut with my novel Read Me Like A Book (which, incidentally, I just received the bound proofs for, and I am completely IN LOVE with this cover, designed and painted by my very talented artist friend Joe Greenaway.



This book is HUGELY important to me and I want to do everything I can to give it a good send off into the world. Because this is a brand new tack for me, I’ll be doing a lot of things differently. I’m already fairly active on Twitter and Facebook – and I do my monthly blog here – but there are all sorts on online hangouts that I know almost nothing about – and I think it’s time to get educated.

Currently, I use my author page on Facebook to write about my books, post lots of photos of sunrises and my dog and the sea, and have lovely chitchat about mermaids and faires and time travel, mainly with my readers, their parents, a few librarians and a bunch of supportive friends. On Twitter, it feels much more about chatting with my writing peers – other writers, bloggers, bookshop people etc. Think publishing party, only without getting drunk on free champagne and making a fool of yourself in front of the MD.

So that’s all well and good, and I enjoy it. But I want to spread my writerly wings. In particular, I want to talk to teenagers – and I don’t know where to find them!

So this is a question aimed mainly at teenagers, parents of teenagers, writers of books for teenagers who interact online…

Where are you? Where do you hang out? Which are your favourite online haunts? And what do look for or expect from in the different places you frequent?

I take a LOT of photos, and should probably be on Instagram. (In fact, I kind of am but I don’t really use it.) I have been told I should get onto Tumblr – and would love to go for it, but every time I glance at it, I feel overwhelmed and bewildered. I’m also kind of half-heartedly on Pinterest, but only so I can look for desks for my new office. And I have got a few videos on Youtube.

The thing is, though, when we try to keep up to date with ALL the places, there’s no time left to, well, you know, write the books. Which I kind of need to keep doing. So I don’t want to join them all. But I’d like to pick the best one (or at most, two) new social networking sites and give them a good go.

So, help me out here. What should I pick? What do you use? Where are my potential new teenage audience most likely to look for me? Any and all opinions on these questions will be gratefully received.


Thank you! :)


Follow Liz on Twitter
Join Liz's Facebook page

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3. Invisible boundaries and social media - C.J. Busby

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 series.



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







0 Comments on Invisible boundaries and social media - C.J. Busby as of 11/6/2014 1:01:00 AM
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4. Music teachers on Facebook: separating the wheat from the chaff

I just reviewed yet another “hot off the press” piano composition. It was posted on Facebook by someone I don’t know – either as a person or by reputation. It looks good, but that is only because note-writing software has become so easy-to-use that anyone with the most basic knowledge can quickly crank out a “could-have-been-published” looking piece.

This particular piece doesn’t sound very good. It is mismatched. The notes themselves are at an upper-beginning level, yet it’s written with a complicated key signature and accidentals only an advanced student could understand. There are notational errors. Yet, I know that many unknowing teachers will print it off and rush it to their unfortunate students before the day is out without knowing better.

My professional life is better because of my Facebook presence that I control from the comfort of my hilltop home in a small town. I have made connections with numerous wonderful teachers I might not have met otherwise. I have discovered new books and interesting repertoire and also have contributed my two cents when I felt called to do so. I recognize, however, that I have been thrown without rank or file, onto a massive heap of piano teachers. Perhaps I stand out because of my reputation, but probably not. Up until recent times, the gatekeepers of quality have included respected publishers and one’s reputation through professional associations. Facebook’s format equalizes everyone regardless of accomplishment or education. There is no gatekeeper here.

I work in an unregulated industry as an independent music teacher in the United States. No professional degrees, training, or licensing of any kind is necessary to start up a studio. One simply needs to hang a sign and gather willing students. While this has been a longstanding issue in our field, recent trends in social media have combined with advances in technology to make everyone look equally valid on the screen. It is impossible to discern from a glance whether one’s content is senseless, stellar, or stolen.

With the ease of creating websites, music teachers have jumped into the writing arena. No credentials are needed to set up a site, write something, and post links in every professional music group on Facebook. The volume is overwhelming and often includes blog posts that are only copies or rewrites of someone else’s work. From appearances on screen, there is no way to sort the good from the bad and unethical.

Likewise, when questions are posed in groups, anyone can answer. There are no algorithms measuring the veracity or usefulness of an answer, or even the level of competence of the person responding. Running parallel to this is an anti-educational drumbeat that attempts to elevate those who have no formal education in their field to the highest level of achievement simply because they have passion for what they do. “People don’t know what they don’t know” as the old saying goes, and on Facebook no one seems bashful in rushing to confirm the truth of this statement. On the ubiquitous blue and white screen we all stand as equals — or at least we look like we do.

Adding to this are the wearisome writers who purport that “having fun” should supersede the steady and sturdy learning that is required to gain success in any field. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with fun, but students subjected to a form of “teaching” with only pleasant, mindless activities devoid of content or educational merit will never see a reasonable level of achievement — certainly not enough for them to gain entry into a respectable music school.

Untrained teachers whose main goal is keeping kids happy are falling into this trap by droves by using well-marketed, but substandard and mostly self-published literature that is woefully lacking in sound pedagogy. There is a bandwagon mentality of rushing to download the latest composition or method, which leads to a sense of belonging to the coolest group in high school – I mean – on Facebook. But, when one method advertises that “Our teachers do not need to possess advanced playing skills, prior teaching experience or a music degree. They must simply love to play the piano…” where is it all headed?

Parents would never allow their children to study math with someone who simply had a passion for adding up numbers, yet many sign them up for music lessons without researching the qualifications of the instructors or the soundness of the materials. The books are slick, the websites dynamic, and the appearances on Facebook omnipresent. But does the emperor actually have any clothes?

With 8,000 piano teachers in one group and several thousand in others, it is an unmanageable task to separate the wheat from the chaff. I suspect that these groups will have short shelf lives moving forward as their members begin to realize the unreliability of the information and the questionable value of material shared. What this backlash will create is yet to be determined, but I trust it will be a positive, quality-driven platform. For me, this can’t happen soon enough.

Image courtesy of Deborah Rambo Sinn

The post Music teachers on Facebook: separating the wheat from the chaff appeared first on OUPblog.

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5. Those Most Adaptable to Change Succeed – Marketing in the Digital Age

"It's not the strongest nor most intelligent that survives; the most adaptable to change wins." While Charles Darwin wasn't thinking of marketing in the digital age when he said these words, they couldn't be more appropriate to the quick and ever-changing climate of online marketing. I'm a writer as well as an online marketer and writing is an evergreen topic. There are steadfast rules that

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6. Death at a Distance

I saw someone’s Facebook status today:

 

a

And I was immediately struck with anger.

At first, I wasn’t sure quite why. I get what they meant. It seems like Ebola’s everywhere! It’s constantly on the news, all over the internet, and everyone’s talking about it. It makes sense to be sick of hearing about it.  We’re bound to get sick of hearing about anything that much!

But still, I couldn’t shake the discomfort that rung in my head over that status. Ebola seems far away, after all, it’s only been diagnosed four times in the US. It’s easy to tuck it away in your mind as something distant that doesn’t affect you and forget why it’s a big deal.

It’s even become a hot topic for jokes on social media:

b c

de

 

Because so many see this very real disease as a far away concept, we find safety in our distance and it’s easy to make light of it.

But guys….

f

 

4,877 deaths. 9,935 sufferers. That’s not funny. That’s not something to ask to “omg shut up.”

The idea of disease never really hit home for me until my little sister was diagnosed with cancer. Yes, Ebola and cancer are two very different things. But I know what it’s like to watch someone I love very dearly suffer. I know what it’s like to hold my sister’s hand while she cries because she can’t escape the pain or the fear that comes with her disease. I know what it’s like to cry myself to sleep begging God to take her illness away. And I can’t help but imagine a sister somewhere in Africa in a situation very similar to my own, watching her loved one suffer, hearing her cries, and begging for it to all be over- but without the blessings of medicine and technology that my sister has access to.

We are quick to throw on our pink gear for breast cancer awareness and dump ice on our head for ALS because that kind of awareness is fun and easy. I’m not trying to diminish those causes- they are great causes that deserve promotion. But I mean to make note of the fact that when another very real disease with very real consequences is brought to light and gains awareness, people groan that it’s in the news again and make jokes about it on the internet. Because Ebola doesn’t have the fun and cute promotional package, we complain and make light of it and its need for awareness and a solution.

People are suffering and dying from Ebola. Just because that suffering seems far away, doesn’t make it any less significant.

 

This is a guest post from my oldest daughter, Meredith. I begged her to let me post it. 


Filed under: Don't Blog Angry

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7. Free Professional Development! Tweet All About It.

I admit, when I first heard about Twitter, I thought the concept was ridiculous. Shooting a message of 140 characters or less into the world? Why? Who would care? Since my initial incredulity,… Continue reading

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8. inky

I'm working on a couple of things these days, but warming up in my sketchbook has become a good habit. I have a 30 min painting a day booklet, and a different one where I've been experimenting with wash and line for "Inktober".
Here are a couple of my favorites. If you want to see more daily sketches, you can follow me on Instagram


Have a nice weekend friends, I'm off to clean up my studio and frost a cake, my parents are coming to town!

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9. So Long, Farewell

Dearest readers, I am sorry to say that the time has come for me to say goodbye. I have had a wonderful time meeting you all, not to mention learning more than I ever thought I would know about the fantastic field of oral history. However, grant applications and comprehensive examinations are calling my name, so I must take a step back from tweeting, Facebooking, tumbling and Google plusing (sure, why not).

Fear not, we have found another to take my place: the esteemable and often bow-tie-wearing Andrew Shaffer. I chatted with him earlier this week and I already think he’ll make a wonderful Caitlin 2.0. (For instance, Andrew originally wanted to introduce himself with the lyrics from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song. A+.)

*   *   *   *   *

So, Andrew, tell us a bit about yourself.

Well, Caitlin, I am a first year PhD student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studying gender and sexuality history in a modern US context. I’m originally from Illinois, but lived in San Francisco for three years before coming to Madison. There I received an MA in International Studies and worked at a non-profit that provides legal resources and policy analysis to immigrants and immigration advocates.

Do you have any interests outside of school?

Honestly? Not really… But when I’m not thinking about school, I sometimes read, go on walks, or explore all the exciting things Madison has to offer.

That’s a little sad. But since you love school so much, I bet you have exceptionally exciting research interests?

I’m really interested in the ways LGBT activists have responded to political and social changes, and how their efforts have impacted the everyday lives of LGBT communities. Because of the incredible diversity among LGBT communities, I use intersectional approaches to better understand how various segments of our community are affected, or even created by these changes.

Oh, awesome! Do you use oral history or interviews in your research?

Absolutely! I had the good fortune to take a class on oral history methods in college, and I fell in love with it right away. Since then, I’ve been involved with multiple oral history projects, and I think it is one of the best tools available to preserve a community’s memories. Because I study the very recent past, I’m lucky to be able to use interviews and oral histories extensively in my research.

You’ll fit in just fine here then — perhaps even better than I did. Speaking of, what are you looking forward to about this position?

I’m most looking forward to meeting and interacting with people who are using oral history to accomplish new and interesting things. The Oral History Review has featured some really great articles on things like using Google Glass for interviews, and using oral history to document the lives of people with schizophrenia. I’m excited to learn more about novel uses of oral history.

Thanks for noticing! I (and Troy) have worked hard to keep up with the latest trends in the field and to shine a spotlight on all the great work oral historians have been doing. Any concerns about taking over?

Definitely! Like most academic types, I find it easier to write 30 pages than 140 characters, but hopefully I’ll learn some brevity. You’ve done a really great job of preparing and sharing high quality posts through Oral History Review’s social media outlets, and I hope I can continue to provide an enjoyable experience for all of our followers!

I’m sure you’ll do great. Best of luck!

*   *   *   *   *

Andrew has already taken over all the social media platforms, so you should feel free to bombard him with questions at @oralhistreview, in the comments below or via the other 3 million social media accounts he now runs. He and I will also be at the upcoming annual meeting in October, so be sure to say hi — and goodbye.

Image credit: Cropped close-up of two hands passing a relay baton against a white background. © chaiyon021 via iStockphoto.

The post So Long, Farewell appeared first on OUPblog.

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10. Three years on. By C.J. Busby


I have just had the second book of my second series for children published. It feels like a bit of a milestone.


It's called Dragon Amber, and it's part of a multiple worlds adventure trilogy that started with Deep Amber last March. The cover's lovely, as all of them have been (thanks to David Wyatt), and there's nothing quite like holding the physical copy of your new book in your hands (or even clutching it to yourself as you do a little dance...!!) But it being the second book of the second series made me stop and think. It's my sixth book to be published. While I'm far from being 'established' (whatever that means), it certainly means I'm no longer a total newbie.

Which feels ever so slightly weird, as I still think of myself as a novice, pretending to be an author.

This business of feeling as if you're pretending seems to be something quite a few children's authors suffer from. (It may be related to the fact that very few of us are actually making enough money to feel writing is a 'proper' job, but that's another story...)

Anyway, I thought I'd take this opportunity - as someone who can no longer consider herself a novice - to try and sum up what I have learnt over the last three years of being part of the world of children's publishing.

1. First and foremost: other children's authors - whether well known, just published or still hopeful - are almost all lovely, warm, friendly and modest (and there are not many professions you'd be able to say that of.) Getting together with them, at festivals, conferences, retreats or book launches is a wonderfully affirming thing to do - and helps quite a lot with that feeling of being a bit of a fraud (I AM a children's writer - because I am accepted by all those other lovely children's writers!!)



2. I have almost no control over whether my books do well or not - so I should just relax and maybe cross my fingers occasionally! Being open to opportunities like school visit invites or festivals is fun and part of getting to know the publishing business - tweeting and face booking have been similarly good for getting to know other writer friends. And sometimes opportunities have come from that. But none of it has turned my book into a best-seller, and I don't think there's any magic way of doing so!



3. If I don't want to become mad and bitter, I have to try not to compare my book sales/prize nominations and festival invites with others - and must remember NOT to check the Amazon ranking of my books more than  once a week! There is a great deal of luck and randomness in this business and then there are the unfathomable whims of publishers, reviewers and the reading public (Fifty Shades of Grey, anyone?). Generally (but not always: see aforementioned Fifty Shades) it's Very Good Books that get attention and prizes - equally there are thousands of Very Good Books that don't, and which category mine end up in (even  if they were to be considered Very Good!) is mostly down to serendipity.

Oh - and marketing spend.

Which brings me to no. 4.

4. Publishers put serious time, energy and money behind only a select few of the books they publish. These books are plastered all over websites, magazines, 'hot new trends' lists, twitter, reviews, front window billing at Waterstones and W.H. Smiths.


In the absence of this push, you are lucky if your book ends up in a select few Waterstones branches, or garners an online review from a kind blogger. This is no reflection on the quality of your book - I've met too many other brilliant people with fabulous books who can't get them noticed to think it's entirely a meritocracy. Publishers are scrabbling to find the next Wimpy Kid or Hunger Games, and even they don't know what will trigger that response. Often it's something they have all roundly rejected as too dire to waste ink on (cough, Fifty Shades...) So they put money behind a few, and publish a hundred others in a kind of scattergun approach, in case any of them builds a following by chance. I've learned to treat having a book out as a bit like having bought a lottery ticket - whether it does well or not is as random as whether I win the jackpot or a £10 prize for three numbers.


5. So, finally, after a few years of trying to find the 'magic key' to making a go of this publishing lark, I've learned to just enjoy the moment: to hold my new book in my hands, and do a little jig at having pulled it off one more time. In the book I'm currently reading (The Blade Itself, by Joe Abercrombie) one of the characters is a Northman, hard, battle-scarred, always getting into more impossible fights. At the end of each one, he repeats, as a kind of mantra: 'Still alive, still alive...' I think I feel a bit like that about writing - 'Still there, still there...'


C.J. Busby writes funny fantasy adventures for ages 7 upwards. Her first book, Frogspell, was a Richard and Judy Children's Book Cub choice for 2012. The series is published in Canada by Scholastic and the UK by Templar and has been translated into German and Turkish. Deep Amber, the first of a new trilogy, was published in March 2014. The second instalment, Dragon Amber, came out on 1st September.



"A rift-hopping romp with great charm, wit and pace" Frances Hardinge.

Nominated for the Stockton Book Award 2015.

www. cjbusby.co.uk

@ceciliabusby


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11. Guest Post by MG Author Gita V. Reddy: Does Social Networking Help Sales?

“You have to,” my friend told me, when I explained that I found all the networking difficult. “You have to put yourself out there, and connect with your readers.”

“Won’t an advertisement about my book do?”

“No. People want to know about you, and what makes you tick.”

“Who are these people who want to know about me even before knowing about my existence? I am practically unknown.”

“That’s your fault.  The least you could have done was to have your own blog.”

“What will I blog about?”
                              
“Anything. There are any number of things you can write about. You could start with your secret recipe of prawn curry.”

I knew this was my friend’s way of getting at the recipe which was guarded by my family like a state secret.

“I write for children, for middle graders. How will a food blog sell books?”

“Mommies are fond of food blogs and mommies decide what their children should read.”

What my friend said seemed logical but I was not keen on blogging, it would eat into my writing time, and I wanted to make up for the twenty-six years when I had not been able to write because of my day job.

“Join a book forum,” my friend suggested. “You love books, and you love discussing about them.”

“But I can’t discuss my own books!”

“They usually have a folder for self-promotion.”

Three months later I told my friend, “It isn’t working. I have posted in more than ten groups but haven’t made a sale.”

“Just posted? You should take part in the discussions, contribute, and network. No group likes people who only peep in to wave a poster.”

I grumbled, “No group wants authors. Just look at the names of the folders! Shameless Self- Promotion! Pimp your Stuff! They should welcome us because the relationship between a writer and a reader is symbiotic.”

“You are a struggling writer, not a writer. You are like a salesman with a new product so you should hawk your wares. You should be on facebook, twitter, Google+, etc.”

Convinced, I started posting and tweeting about my books, myself, and my cat. My friend had a huge following and he helped me build one too.  My posts spread like ripples.

A month later, when I was going through the latest tweets, my friend dropped in. “What are you doing?” he asked.

“Checking to see which ones to retweet.”

“Are you reading them? You don’t have to. Just retweet and spread the word.”

“Don’t you read the tweets?”

“A few. I just retweet most of them. That is what everyone does.”

If what my friend said was true, most of the social networking I had done had ended up as statistics. The number of ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’ were just numbers. But my sales had shown some improvement, I’d made some new friends and had had some good laughs.  And the pundits swear by it.

My book, Cinderella’s Escape, is free on all Amazon stores on 5th, 6th, and 7th September, 2014. Please share, re-tweet this post.

Author Pages:


Please connect with me through my website, facebook page, and twitter (@GITAVREDDY)

Gita V. Reddy is a writer of fiction for children and adults. She enjoys thinking up tales of different genres. She has written mysteries, adventure, science fiction and even an animal tale for childrens.
Ms Reddy was born in India, is a post graduate in Mathematics, is married to a physics professor, has a son doing research in neuro-electronics and loves literature!

Her other interests are painting and writing poetry.

0 Comments on Guest Post by MG Author Gita V. Reddy: Does Social Networking Help Sales? as of 9/4/2014 3:12:00 PM
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12. Blogging Freehand

bgbanner

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.

babyrose

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.

roseandwbonslide

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.

janeinhospital

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!

rillajane

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.

unsweetenedbanner

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.

halloweengirls

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!

boykisses

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13. Blogging Freehand

bgbanner

I’ve been online since April, 1995. Quit my job at Random House, 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 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.

babyrose

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. 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.

roseandwbonslide

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.

janeinhospital

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!

rillajane

I was thinking about the early days today because I had it in my head to write a post called “Thing’s 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.

unsweetenedbanner

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. Tens of thousands. 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.

halloweengirls

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.

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!

boykisses

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14. Special events and the dynamical statistics of Twitter

A large variety of complex systems in ecology, climate science, biomedicine, and engineering have been observed to exhibit so-called tipping points, where the dynamical state of the system abruptly changes. Typical examples are the rapid transition in lakes from clear to turbid conditions or the sudden extinction of species after a slightly change of environmental conditions. Data and models suggest that detectable warning signs may precede some, though clearly not all, of these drastic events. This view is also corroborated by recently developed abstract mathematical theory for systems, where processes evolve at different rates and are subject to internal and/or external stochastic perturbations.

One main idea to derive warning signs is to monitor the fluctuations of the dynamical process by calculating the variance of a suitable monitoring variable. When the tipping point is approached via a slowly-drifting parameter, the stabilizing effects of the system slowly diminish and the noisy fluctuations increase via certain well-defined scaling laws.

Based upon these observations, it is natural to ask, whether these scaling laws are also present in human social networks and can allow us to make predictions about future events. This is an exciting open problem, to which at present only highly speculative answers can be given. It is indeed to predict a priori unknown events in a social system. Therefore, as an initial step, we try to reduce the problem to a much simpler problem to understand whether the same mechanisms, which have been observed in the context of natural sciences and engineering, could also be present in sociological domains.

Courtesy of Christian Kuehn.
Courtesy of Christian Kuehn.

In our work, we provide a very first step towards tackling a substantially simpler question by focusing on a priori known events. We analyse a social media data set with a focus on classical variance and autocorrelation scaling law warning signs. In particular, we consider a few events, which are known to occur on a specific time of the year, e.g., Christmas, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. Then we consider time series of the frequency of Twitter hashtags related to the considered events a few weeks before the actual event, but excluding the event date itself and some time period before it.

Now suppose we do not know that a dramatic spike in the number of Twitter hashtags, such as #xmas or #thanksgiving, will occur on the actual event date. Are there signs of the same stochastic scaling laws observed in other dynamical systems visible some time before the event? The more fundamental question is: Are there similarities to known warning signs from other areas also present in social media data?

We answer this question affirmatively as we find that the a priori known events mentioned above are preceded by variance and autocorrelation growth (see Figure). Nevertheless, we are still very far from actually using social networks to predict the occurrence of many other drastic events. For example, it can also be shown that many spikes in Twitter activity are not predictable through variance and autocorrelation growth. Hence, a lot more research is needed to distinguish different dynamical processes that lead to large outburst of activity on social media.

The findings suggest that further investigations of dynamical processes in social media would be worthwhile. Currently, a main focus in the research on social networks lies on structural questions, such as: Who connects to whom? How many connections do we have on average? Who are the hubs in social media? However, if one takes dynamical processes on the network, as well as the changing dynamics of the network topology, into account, one may obtain a much clearer picture, how social systems compare and relate to classical problems in physics, chemistry, biology and engineering.

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15. Cautionary comic for writers (and illustrators!)

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16. Agent Talk: 7 Ways To Make Yourself An Easy Author to Work With

carly-watters-p-s-literary-agencyA few weeks ago, Agent Carly Watters on her blog talked about after you write a great manuscript, how does an agent decide to work with someone after that? She has seven tips.

7 Ways To Make Yourself An Easy Author to Work With by Carly Watters:

1. Open to revisions

Right away, I know if an author is going to be a fit for me based on how they react to revision ideas. Agents are looking for writers that are open to feedback and collaboration. If I gave you an R&R did you connect with my notes? Did you ask questions that take my notes from suggestions to big picture changes that make the novel better?

2. Always wants to get better

A line I like to use is “trust your future self.” What that means to me is if you can write good novel, you can write many more. Getting defensive about your novel means you are holding on to it when really you should be willing to let it go and work on the next. Agents are looking to represent authors for the long term, so what we need is the faith that you want to be the best writer, every time you write a new book. We know there will be ups and downs, but it’s that drive to succeed that will separate many writers from the ones that don’t make it.

3. Treats assistants and senior industry members alike

From time to time we get people who respond to our query letter auto-response with condescending and mean emails. It doesn’t matter who is on the other end of those emails, our principal agent or our assistant, you have to be friendly to everyone–not just the people who influence your career. Those mean emails just reinforce our decision to pass without a second thought.

4. Asks questions

I love it when authors want to know more about the process. Don’t be shy about wanting to know how the business works. Whether it’s a Twitter #askagent session or when you’re on ‘The Call’ with an agent, make sure you ask the important questions that help your understanding.

5. Trusts us

The number one way to work with an agent for a long period of time is trust. I know this isn’t built over night, but you have to trust your agent to have your best interests at heart. This is one of the most important long-term author/agent relationship requirements. Only query agents that you see yourself working with and that you already trust (whether it’s a referral, their taste or client list).

6. Communication

This is part of trust, but authors have to be up-front with agents. Did you self publish before? Have you had an agent before? Can you share your sales numbers from your previous book? It’s the little things that add up when it comes to communication. We need to know everything if we’re going to represent you well.

7. Professional on social media

As easy as it is for authors to Google agents to see if we might be a fit for you, when we fall in love with a query or manuscript the first thing we do is Google you back. What agents love to see on social media is a personality (not just link blasts). You don’t have to have a ton of followers (but points if you do!) to get our attention. It’s all about the balance between promotion and personality. We love it when authors are part of writing communities and support other authors. That means, when the time comes, those other published writers will support you too.

You should check out Carly’s Blog: http://carlywatters.com/blog/

PS Literary is looking for an intern. Carly has information about working remotely for them. If you have any aspirations to become a literary Agent, this would be something to consider.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, Agent, article, authors and illustrators, list, opportunity, Social Media, Tips Tagged: 7 Ways to Make Yourself an Easy Author to Work with, Carly Watters

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17. My client’s online presence

By Jan Willer


Social media and other technologies have changed how we communicate. Consider how we coordinate events and contact our friends and family members today, versus how we did it 20 or 30 years ago. Today, we often text, email, or communicate through social media more frequently than we phone or get together in person.

Now contrast that with psychotherapy, which is still about two people getting together in a room and talking. Certainly, technology has changed psychotherapy. There are now apps for mental health issues. There are virtual reality treatments. Psychotherapy can now be provided through videoconferencing (a.k.a. telehealth). But still, it’s usually simply two people talking in a room.

Our psychotherapy clients communicate with everyone else they know through multiple technological platforms. Should we let them “friend” us on social media? Should we link to them on professional networking sites? Is it ok to text with them? What about email? When are these ok and not ok?

Social Media Explained (with Donuts). Uploaded by Chris Lott. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.

Social Media Explained (with Donuts). Uploaded by Chris Lott. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.

Some consensus is emerging about these issues. Experts agree that psychotherapists should not connect with current or former clients on social media. This is to help preserve the clients’ confidentiality. Emailing and texting are fine for communicating brief messages about the parameters of the session, such as confirming the appointment time, or informing the psychotherapist that the client is running late. Research has shown that emotional tone is frequently miscommunicated in texting and email, so emotion-laden topics are best discussed during the session.

How do we learn about new people we’ve met? In the past, we’d talk directly to them, and maybe also talk to people we knew in common. Now everyone seems to search online for everyone else. This happens frequently with first dates, college applicants, and job applicants.

Again, contrast this with psychotherapy. Again, two people are sitting in a room, talking and learning about each other. When is it ok for a psychotherapist to search for information about a client online? What if the psychotherapist discovers important information that the client withheld? How do these discoveries impact the psychotherapy?

No clear consensus has emerged on these issues. Some experts assert that psychotherapists should almost never search online for clients. Other experts respond that it is unreasonable to expect that psychotherapists should not access publicly available information. Others suggest examining each situation on a case-by-case basis. One thing is clear: psychotherapists should communicate with their clients about their policies on internet searches. This should be done in the beginning of psychotherapy, as part of the informed consent process.

When we’ve voluntarily posted information online–and when information about us is readily available in news stories, court documents, or other public sources–we don’t expect this information to be private. For this reason, I find the assertion that psychotherapists can access publically available information to be more compelling. On my intake forms, I invite clients to send me a link to their LinkedIn profile instead of describing their work history, if they prefer. If a client mentions posting her artwork online, I’ll suggest that she send me a link to it or ask her how to find it. I find that clients are pleased that I take an interest.

What about the psychotherapist’s privacy? What if the client follows the psychotherapist’s Twitter account or blog? What if the client searches online for the psychotherapist? What if the client discovers personal information about the psychotherapist by searching? Here’s the short answer: psychotherapists need to avoid posting anything online that we don’t want everyone, including our clients, to see.

Ways to communicate online continue to proliferate. For example, an app that sends only the word “Yo” was recently capitalized to the tune of $2.5 million and was downloaded over 2 million times. Our professional ethics codes are revised infrequently (think years), while new apps and social media are emerging monthly, even daily. Expert consensus on how to manage these new communications technologies emerges slowly (again, think years). But psychotherapists have to respond to new communications technologies in the moment, every day. All we can do is keep the client’s well-being and confidentiality as our highest aspiration.

Jan Willer is a clinical psychologist in private practice. For many years, she trained psychology interns at the VA. She is the author of The Beginning Psychotherapist’s Companion, which offers practical suggestions and multicultural clinical examples to illustrate the foundations of ethical psychotherapy practice. She is interested in continuing to bridge the notorious research-practice gap in clinical psychology. Her seminars have been featured at Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and DePaul University. 

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18. Martha Brockenbrough's PRO Track Session: Building A Killer Public Presence

Team Blog's very own Martha Brockenbrough is the author of five books for young readers, including the YA novel Devine Intervention and the picture book, The Dinosaur Tooth Fairy. She has a killer public presence - check out her website at www.marthabrockenbrough.com and on twitter @mbrockenbrough

Martha Brockenbrough just before her session started (before the room filled to overflowing.)

Martha starts out by saying to the beyond standing-room-only crowd that:

It's not about marketing, it's about building relationships, and those relationships sell your book for you.

It's not about the hard sell - it's about this question: Do you enjoy meeting people who love books as much as you do?

YES!
"Connect with the right people and you'll ultimately connect with the right readers."

The breakout session was structured as the five key steps to building those relationships (and that killer public presence.)

I'll divulge one of the steps here::

Define your brand

Here's how that breaks down:

1. Identify who your ideal reader is

Martha's is: A weird independent nerd

2. summarize your book, who it's about, tone, sense of stakes

What is Martha's YA novel, Devine Intervention about?

"It's about the world's worst guardian angel, the girl he accidentally kills and the 24 hours they have to sneak her soul into Heaven before it disappears forever."

3. summarize your writing as a whole

Martha's website header says it all: "Author of Books for Smart Kids and Juvenile Adults"

4. convey it visually - while still being your authentic self

Martha has that cool streak in her hair that makes teen girls say, "I like your hair!"



5. leverage your unique background

Martha leveraged her passion for grammar by founding The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar and creating a holiday for it. This got her a lot of press coverage, and her reviews often speak of her love of language.


Martha is a fountain of information, and her session covers so much more! From how to leverage common core to the significance of pre-orders, we get example after example of how she and other authors did things right.

It's essential, inspiring, and as the person next to me said after the applause tapered down at the session's end:

"That was awesome."



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19. How social media is changing language

By Jon Reed


From unfriend to selfie, social media is clearly having an impact on language.  As someone who writes about social media I’m aware of not only how fast these online platforms change, but also of how they influence the language in which I write.

The words that surround us every day influence the words we use. Since so much of the written language we see is now on the screens of our computers, tablets, and smartphones, language now evolves partly through our interaction with technology. And because the language we use to communicate with each other tends to be more malleable than formal writing, the combination of informal, personal communication and the mass audience afforded by social media is a recipe for rapid change.

From the introduction of new words to new meanings for old words to changes in the way we communicate, social media is making its presence felt.

New ways of communicating


An alphabet soup of acronyms, abbreviations, and neologisms has grown up around technologically mediated communication to help us be understood. I’m old enough to have learned the acronyms we now think of as textspeak on the online forums and ‘Internet relay chat’ (IRC) that pre-dated text messaging. On IRC, acronyms help speed up a real-time typed conversation. On mobile phones they minimize the inconvenience of typing with tiny keys. And on Twitter they help you make the most of your 140 characters.

Emoticons such as ;-) and acronyms such as LOL (‘laughing out loud’ — which has just celebrated its 25th birthday) add useful elements of non-verbal communication — or annoy people with their overuse. This extends to playful asterisk-enclosed stage directions describing supposed physical actions or facial expressions (though use with caution: it turns out that *innocent face* is no defence in court).

An important element of Twitter syntax is the hashtag — a clickable keyword used to categorize tweets. Hashtags have also spread to other social media platforms — and they’ve even reached everyday speech, but hopefully spoofs such as Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake’s sketch on The Tonight Show will dissuade us from using them too frequently. But you will find hashtags all over popular culture, from greetings cards and t-shirts to the dialogue of sitcom characters.

Syntax aside, social media has also prompted a more subtle revolution in the way we communicate. We share more personal information, but also communicate with larger audiences. Our communication styles consequently become more informal and more open, and this seeps into other areas of life and culture. When writing on social media, we are also more succinct, get to the point quicker, operate within the creative constraints of 140 characters on Twitter, or aspire to brevity with blogs.

Social media

New words and meanings


Facebook has also done more than most platforms to offer up new meanings for common words such as friend, like, statuswallpage, and profile. Other new meanings which crop up on social media channels also reflect the dark side of social media: a troll is no longer just a character from Norse folklore, but someone who makes offensive or provocative comments online; a sock puppet is no longer solely a puppet made from an old sock, but a self-serving fake online persona; and astroturfing is no longer simply laying a plastic lawn but also a fake online grass-roots movement.

Social media is making it easier than ever to contribute to the evolution of language. You no longer have to be published through traditional avenues to bring word trends to the attention of the masses. While journalists have long provided the earliest known uses of topical terms — everything from 1794’s pew-rent in The Times to beatboxing in The Guardian (1987) — the net has been widened by the “net.” A case in point is Oxford Dictionaries 2013 Word of the Year, selfie: the earliest use of the word has been traced to an Australian Internet forum. With forums, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media channels offering instant interaction with wide audiences, it’s never been easier to help a word gain traction from your armchair.

Keeping current


Some people may feel left behind by all this. If you’re a lawyer grappling with the new geek speak, you may need to use up court time to have terms such as Rickrolling explained to you. And yes, some of us despair at how use of this informal medium can lead to an equally casual attitude to grammar. But the truth is that social media is great for word nerds. It provides a rich playground for experimenting with, developing, and subverting language.

It can also be a great way keep up with these changes. Pay attention to discussions in your social networks and you can spot emerging new words, new uses of words — and maybe even coin one yourself.

A version of this post first appeared on OxfordWords blog.

Jon Reed is the author of Get Up to Speed with Online Marketing and runs the website Publishing Talk. He is also on Twitter at @jonreed.

Image: via Shutterstock.

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20. Facebugged

I’ve made an uneasy peace with becoming a product sold to advertisers. Now it seems I’ve been a lab rat, too.

The AV Club reports:

Scientists at Facebook have published a paper showing that they manipulated the content seen by more than 600,000 users in an attempt to determine whether this would affect their emotional state. The paper, “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks,” was published in The Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences. It shows how Facebook data scientists tweaked the algorithm that determines which posts appear on users’ news feeds—specifically, researchers skewed the number of positive or negative terms seen by randomly selected users. Facebook then analyzed the future postings of those users over the course of a week to see if people responded with increased positivity or negativity of their own, thus answering the question of whether emotional states can be transmitted across a social network. Result: They can! Which is great news for Facebook data scientists hoping to prove a point about modern psychology. It’s less great for the people having their emotions secretly manipulated.

bubble

I uploaded this picture last night, intending to write my usual sort of daily-chronicle post. Then my eye wandered from the rainbows inscribed on the bubble to the blunt, browned ends of the grass and I got distracted by the ruthlessness with which we shear off the fertile edges of nature. I wandered off to bed, musing, leaving the post unwritten. (Huck’s finger is much improved, was the gist.)

This morning, after reading the article quoted above (about a different kind of bubble, a ruthlessness altogether unsurprising but disgusting nonetheless), I came back here and found the photo waiting. And now I see that I’m in the picture too, there inside the bubble, taking a photo of the green world on the other side of the film. You could work up quite a metaphor there, obvious, clumsy, but apt: the insubstantial bubbles, the world outside, the illusions of people that aren’t the persons themselves.

But my frustrations aren’t philosophical (of course Facebook was always going to exploit us in every way possible) but practical. The reason a billion people have handed over their (our) data to Facebook is, at heart, a practical one: it’s the most efficient platform anyone has yet come up with for letting us keep in touch with a large number of friends and family at once. We failed at writing letters. Good phone conversations, while satisfying, take immense chunks of time. If you want to keep up with each other’s daily lives, the little things, you have to talk every couple of days (at the least) or else there’s too much ground to cover and you must out of necessity abridge.

Yahoogroups worked, for a while—you could engage in meaningful discourse or chummy banter with a good-sized group of people at once. But generally most of those relationships were new, were forged because of the group, by means of the group. I made some lifelong friends that way (hello, TAMs! hello, Karen!) but (I don’t like that ‘but’; it sounds like a devaluation of the friendships on its left, and that isn’t what I mean at all)—but—but my high-school friends didn’t form a Yahoogroup. My college friends didn’t. We kept to our phone calls, our occasional letters and visits. I read letters six times and treasured them, and didn’t write back, or did but didn’t stop for stamps.

After a while, most of the Yahoogroups I was part of morphed into discussion boards (more efficient, because they allowed for topic-sorting; less efficient, because they required administration and management) or faded into disuse. I think I’m still signed up to forty-odd lists. I get mail from three, and read one and a half. It’s years since I logged into a discussion board.

Then came blogs. Those of us still doggedly blogging for personal reasons look back on 2005 and 2006 with nostalgia: we remember what it was like in those days, less than a decade ago, when we were for the first time opening our front doors and saying here’s my house, come in. We shared too much, made friends, celebrated art and nature, got in fights, copied one another or got furious about being copied—all the same things we’d done on AOL in 1995 and in email groups in 1999, only now with photos of our children. We formed new and very real friendships: real and strange, because we knew (know) so much about each other and have watched each other’s children grow up, and yet we live so far away some of us may never meet. When one of us goes silent for a while, the others worry. Sometimes I’ll think: if she dies, I might never know what happened.

That’s if she isn’t on Facebook. Because that’s what Facebook does better than blogging—connects wide groups of people and spreads news they wouldn’t necessarily publish on any other website—and Facebook is why only a fraction of my friends-who-blogged are blogging still. Facebook IS blogging. It’s everyone blogging at once on the same platform, a platform cleverly managed (manipulated) for purposes we all agree are greedy at best, and not guided by principles that put our best interests remotely near the top of the priority list.

I love Facebook. I hate Facebook. I have loved and hated it since the day I joined. Facebook gave me back friends I had lost: that’s the sum total of my reason for loving it, and it’s immense. All those other platforms brought me new friends. Facebook reunited me with old ones. I don’t need to dress it up in metaphors. I’d lost touch with some of the people I loved best, and Facebook gave them back to me. It gave me what blogging didn’t: daily contact with beloved cousins and old school friends. Every day, it gave (gives) me photos and anecdotes of their lives, their children, their pets, their loved ones, their work. How can I measure the value of that?

If all the people I loved were inclined to blog—to blog about their personal lives, no less—I wouldn’t need a platform like Facebook. Somehow, Facebook accomplished the miraculous feat of convincing all these old friends to blog as we were doing, with oversharing and our children’s faces and outrage and sorrow and delight. And commenting is easier there, it just IS: fast, efficient (it always comes back to efficiency), and rewarded by a heartening LIKE. And—significantly—more conversational. You can reply back and forth quickly, in real-time like chat. Don’t blog comments feel more formal somehow? They didn’t use to. I feel like we used to chitchat more in the combox, but maybe that’s nostalgia. It’s probably just the time delay. If I reply to your comment here, it’s probably a day after you wrote it, and who knows if you even see the reply.

It’s strange, actually, the way we feel safer about sharing our personal stories on Facebook. We know we’re the product there; the evidence is thrust before us every time we open the tab and see a sidebar ad for a book we looked at on a different website the day before. We rail about the way they keep resetting the news feed from ‘most recent’ to ‘top stories,’ we fume at each sneaky privacy-policy change, we wince each time another website wants us to log in via Facebook before we can leave a comment.

But we go back, because that’s where our friends are posting photos of their their babies, their travels, their graduations. Because it’s a mini college reunion every time one of us posts and all our classmates chime in, laughing over an old shared joke. Because we have history together, and we care about one another’s present-day lives. Because if something serious happens, you’re going to tell your Facebook friends before you put it on a blog.

To leave, or to make the decision never to go in the first place (for reasons I respect and with a resolve I may at times envy a little), is to cut yourself off from a certain flow of information. There’s plenty of nonsense and trivia on Facebook, as there is in all forms of human interaction, including some of the best phone calls I’ve ever had. But there’s a great deal of the Real, the Good, the True there too, and it’s that—not simply the dopamine hit, as many theorists would have us believe—that brings us back. It’s genuine curiosity. It’s, to be blunt, love. I love you and I want to know how you’re doing. If Facebook is where you’re showing me, how can I stay away?

I would pay for an ad-free social connection site with no data-mining and no gross user manipulation of the sort revealed in the newly published study described in the article above. (You can click through from the article to the study itself.) But—here’s what I know. I know it’s unlikely a critical mass of my friends and relatives would too. Facebook caught us because it was free, and because there was a numerical tipping point: so many of us are there now, you really are missing something if you aren’t. Which isn’t to say anyone should be there who doesn’t want to be: I wouldn’t presume. As I said, I respect and admire their reasons for staying away.

But I’m a practical person, and I know what I’ll miss out on if I leave. I’m 46 years old and I’ve lived in a lot of places. I love a great many people. As I said on Facebook this morning when I shared the link above—my last act before logging out for a breather—”But how will I get my YOU fix?”

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21. Book Marketing - Better Check Your Amazon Book Categories

Social media is such a useful tool - if you don't get carried away with it and waste too much precious time. Why it's useful is you can find fresh content at your finger tips from those you follow, connect with, or like. That's how I found a must-read post, "Big Changes on Amazon Categories" from Author Marketing Experts. I found it at GooglePlus. It seems Amazon made changes to its book

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22. Rebooting Philosophy

By Luciano Floridi


When we use a computer, its performance seems to degrade progressively. This is not a mere impression. An old version of Firefox, the free Web browser, was infamous for its “memory leaks”: it would consume increasing amounts of memory to the detriment of other programs. Bugs in the software actually do slow down the system. We all know what the solution is: reboot. We restart the computer, the memory is reset, and the performance is restored, until the bugs slow it down again.

Philosophy is a bit like a computer with a memory leak. It starts well, dealing with significant and serious issues that matter to anyone. Yet, in time, its very success slows it down. Philosophy begins to care more about philosophers’ questions than philosophical ones, consuming increasing amount of intellectual attention. Scholasticism is the ultimate freezing of the system, the equivalent of Windows’ “blue screen of death”; so many resources are devoted to internal issues that no external input can be processed anymore, and the system stops. The world may be undergoing a revolution, but the philosophical discourse remains detached and utterly oblivious. Time to reboot the system.

Philosophical “rebooting” moments are rare. They are usually prompted by major transformations in the surrounding reality. Since the nineties, I have been arguing that we are witnessing one of those moments. It now seems obvious, even to the most conservative person, that we are experiencing a turning point in our history. The information revolution is profoundly changing every aspect of our lives, quickly and relentlessly. The list is known but worth recalling: education and entertainment, communication and commerce, love and hate, politics and conflicts, culture and health, … feel free to add your preferred topics; they are all transformed by technologies that have the recording and processing of information as their core functions. Meanwhile, philosophy is degrading into self-referential discussions on irrelevancies.

The result of a philosophical rebooting today can only be beneficial. Digital technologies are not just tools merely modifying how we deal with the world, like the wheel or the engine. They are above all formatting systems, which increasingly affect how we understand the world, how we relate to it, how we see ourselves, and how we interact with each other.

The ‘Fourth Revolution’ betrays what I believe to be one of the topics that deserves our full intellectual attention today. The idea is quite simple. Three scientific revolutions have had great impact on how we see ourselves. In changing our understanding of the external world they also modified our self-understanding. After the Copernican revolution, the heliocentric cosmology displaced the Earth and hence humanity from the centre of the universe. The Darwinian revolution showed that all species of life have evolved over time from common ancestors through natural selection, thus displacing humanity from the centre of the biological kingdom. And following Freud, we acknowledge nowadays that the mind is also unconscious. So we are not immobile, at the centre of the universe, we are not unnaturally separate and diverse from the rest of the animal kingdom, and we are very far from being minds entirely transparent to ourselves. One may easily question the value of this classic picture. After all, Freud was the first to interpret these three revolutions as part of a single process of reassessment of human nature and his perspective was blatantly self-serving. But replace Freud with cognitive science or neuroscience, and we can still find the framework useful to explain our strong impression that something very significant and profound has recently happened to our self-understanding.

Since the fifties, computer science and digital technologies have been changing our conception of who we are. In many respects, we are discovering that we are not standalone entities, but rather interconnected informational agents, sharing with other biological agents and engineered artefacts a global environment ultimately made of information, the infosphere. If we need a champion for the fourth revolution this should definitely be Alan Turing.

The fourth revolution offers a historical opportunity to rethink our exceptionalism in at least two ways. Our intelligent behaviour is confronted by the smart behaviour of engineered artefacts, which can be adaptively more successful in the infosphere. Our free behaviour is confronted by the predictability and manipulability of our choices, and by the development of artificial autonomy. Digital technologies sometimes seem to know more about our wishes than we do. We need philosophy to make sense of the radical changes brought about by the information revolution. And we need it to be at its best, for the difficulties we are facing are challenging. Clearly, we need to reboot philosophy now.

Luciano Floridi is Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information at the University of Oxford, Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, and Fellow of St Cross College, Oxford. He was recently appointed as ethics advisor to Google. His most recent book is The Fourth Revolution: How the Infosphere is Reshaping Human Reality.

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Image credit: Alan Turing Statue at Bletchley Park. By Ian Petticrew. CC-BY-SA-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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23. New Summer Reading for Anglophiles

Alice's Mad Tea Party
Maybe it's the strawberries and cream at Wimbledon. Or maybe it's that I can't quite get rid of the influence of the Raj in my psyche. No matter—the fact remains that every summer my reader's heart starts to hanker after Brit Lit.

There's nothing quite like a good Susan Howatch novel, tea, scones, and clotted cream (which Whole Foods carries now, leading to the demise of my overly ambitious fitness plans.)

On the hunt for contemporary (still alive and writing) authors, I posted this on my social media yesterday:




I thought I'd compile a list of books and authors as suggested by my friends, in case other anglophiles out there are looking for a new read. Books that are asterisked received more than one mention. (Note: I have neither read nor vetted the titles on this list, so read at your own risk ... but I do have a smart social media set.)

Particular Books
  • The Fire-Eaters by David Almond
  • Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
  • *The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie and other Flavia DeLuce mysteries by Alan C. Bradley
  • Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman by Elizabeth Buchan
  • The Children's Book by AS Byatt
  • Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger
  • Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare
  • *The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
  • The Memory of Love by Armineta Forna
  • *The Cuckoo's Calling and The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith 
  • Old Filth by Jane Gardam
  • Austenland by Shannon Hale
  • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Frye by Rachel Joyce
  • Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesy
  • Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies by Hillary Mantel
  • If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor
  • Saffy's Angels by Hilary McKay
  • Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  • Rustication and The Quincunx by Charles Palliser
  • Lady Jane series by Deanna Rayborn
  • Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
  • *The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
  • *Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
  • *Sunday Philosophy Club and Dalhousie series by Alexander McCall Smith
  • Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe
  • Ian Rutledge series by Charles Todd
  • A Parcel of Patterns by Jill Paton Walsh
  • Maisie Dobbs series by Jacquelyn Winspear
  • *Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
  • The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Other Recommended Authors
  • Rhys Bowen
  • Elizabeth Buchan
  • Margaret Drabble
  • Philippa Gregory
  • Elly Griffiths
  • Nick Hornby
  • Penelope Lively
  • Sarah Maclean
  • Elizabeth Noble
  • Maggie O'Farrell
  • James Runcie
  • Joanna Trollope
Dead Authors and Books People Couldn't Help Mentioning
  • Love in a Cold Climate and The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
  • Rumer Godden
  • Dora Saint (Miss Read)
  • I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Got other suggestions? Leave them in the comments for the rest of us to discover.

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24. Widen Your Circle: Join us for KidLitCon 2014

One of the best ways to deepen our commitment to children's and young adult books is by meeting other people who share that passion. And I don't mean just virtually; I mean in real life, too. Well, here's our chance: the 8th annual Kidlitosphere Conference, aka KidLitCon, October 10-11, at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria in Sacramento, California. This is a gathering of people who care about children’s and young adult books, including librarians, authors, teachers, parents, booksellers, publishers, and readers.


Social Media, Blogging, and Diversity in Young Adult and Children’s Literature

How might we use our blogs and social media platforms to widen the world of children’s and young adult literature? I'll be there, speaking about how we can change and affect the conversation about diversity, both in the industry and in the wider culture. Author Shannon Hale is going to speak also, via Skype.

Mark October 10th and 11th on your calendar—we'd love to see you there. And consider submitting a proposal by August 1st about how you might contribute to the conversation on children’s and young adult books. Or just register by September 19th.

Conference Organizers

Tanita Davis and Sarah StevensonFinding Wonderland
Jen RobinsonJen Robinson’s Book Page

Please help by spreading the word. Be a fan on Facebook and Follow KidLitCon on Twitter.

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25. Pinterest and Your Novel

By Julie Daines

The other day I had the most wonderful surprise. A reader read my book, Unraveled, and loved it so much she created a Pinterest board for it with a few pictures that sparked her imagination about certain elements of the story.

I can't believe I didn't think of that. What a great way to share fun visuals with readers. I started thinking how Pinterest could be used as a promotional tool, as a forum to draw readers together to share something they love, or as an idea generator while drafting.

Here is a link to her awesome Pinterest board. It's only got seven pictures, but it captures the novel perfectly.

I'm not always the best at using all the tools at hand when it comes to writing and promoting.

I'd love to hear ideas from all of you on ways you've seen Pinterest--or any of the social media platforms--used in any part of the writing process.

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