Non-Fiction

Does the Octopus Have a Soul?

26 May 2015

From The Daily Beast:

What has eight legs and just might have a soul?

The answer, surprisingly, is an octopus.

These leggy cephalopods, long a prominent player in human fear of the ocean depths, are the subject of a touching yet informative new book by Sy Montgomery, The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness.

In her attempts to understand the octopus, a creature that for a variety of reasons has caught her eye, Montgomery, author of The Good Good Pig, befriends the men and women of the New England Aquarium, and while there she develops what can only be called a relationship with its various octopus inhabitants. The book is sort of three in one. It is in part an attempt to grapple with animal consciousness as it relates to the octopus. It is part grab-bag of interesting factoids about this incredible species. And it is also a memoir, as Montgomery is very much a part of the story—it follows her relations with fellow enthusiasts, her struggles with scuba diving, and her own emotional connection to the creatures.

“The commonest of sea creatures are miracles,” writes Montgomery, and the octopus is a prime example.

Link to the rest at The Daily Beast and thanks to Julia for the tip.

Thinking Different(ly) About University Presses

7 May 2015

From Inside Higher Ed:

Lynn University, to further its tablet-centric curriculum, is establishing its own university press to support textbooks created exclusively for Apple products.

Lynn University Digital Press, which operates out of the institution’s library, in some ways formalizes the authoring process between faculty members, instructional designers, librarians and the general counsel that’s been taking place at the private university in Florida for years. With the university press in place, the effort to create electronic textbooks now has an academic editor, style guides and faculty training programs in place to improve the publishing workflow.

“We’ve felt we really needed infrastructure around our faculty so they could concentrate on the right content and not necessarily on being experts in being an author or editing or rights and permissions,” said Christian G. Boniforti, the university’s chief information officer. He compared Lynn’s decision to create its own university press to the larger push to promote technology in the classroom generally, which he said can sometimes “get in the way of the faculty teaching.” With the electronic textbook initiative, he said, “we found ourselves in that same situation.”

. . . .

Unlike many university presses, which are exploring new business models and products to sustain their scholarly publishing efforts, the Lynn Digital Press does not yet have to worry about financial viability. Its immediate goal, which precedes any expansion plans, is to help faculty members create textbooks to cover the university’s core curriculum, known as the Dialogues.

. . . .

Faculty members receive both a new laptop (the textbook authoring software, iBooks Author, runs only on Macs) and a $2,000 stipend when they volunteer to create a textbook. The first two faculty members are planning to make their books available for purchase through iTunes, which will result in a 30-20-50 revenue split between Apple, Lynn and the author, Ross said.

Link to the rest at Inside Higher Ed and thanks to Victoria for the tip.

Mazeppa

12 April 2015

From The Oxford English Dictionary Word of the Day:

Mazeppa, n.

. . . .

Etymology: < the name of Ivan Stepanovyč Mazepa (1644–1709), Ukrainian Cossack leader, popularized in English in the form Mazeppa by Byron’s poem of that name (1819).
In Byron’s version of the story, based on a passage in Voltaire’s Histoire de Charles XII (1731), Mazeppa is discovered to have been having an affair with the wife of a Polish nobleman, and is punished by being tied naked to a wild horse, which is lashed into madness and then let loose.

. . . .

A person likened in some way to Mazeppa, esp. in being the unwilling rider of a wild horse.

. . . .

1851 H. Melville Moby-Dick lx. 314 Only by a certain self-adjusting buoyancy..can you escape being made a Mazeppa of, and run away with.

Link to the rest at Oxford English Dictionary

Five Years of Grit and Determination: Self-Publishing a Pop-Up Book

8 April 2015

From Publishers Weekly:

Many indie authors encounter a steep learning curve when writing and self-publishing their first book—and that’s just for novels or memoirs. Denise Price encountered even more obstacles when she set out to write, design, and self-publish her pop-uo book,The Freedom Trail Pop Up Book of Boston.

But after five years and a successful campaign on Kickstarter that netted $52,500, Price’s book was released on on April 1 and is already the top new release in “Boston Massachusetts Travel Books” on Amazon.

Before she could even begin the project, Price had to figure out how pop-up books are made. Next came mastering paper engineering and learning to create digital art. Price then had to find out where pop-ups are printed. She located a handful of companies that can produce 5,000 copies of a pop-up book: two in China and one in Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. Price also had to obtain permissions from the Freedom Trail Foundation, which promotes the 16 historic sites covered in the book.

. . . .

Determined to go ahead with The Freedom Trail Pop Up Book of Boston, Price spent days taking apart damaged pop ups that she bought online to figure out how to transform a two-dimensional book. She took a few classes as well, one with British pop-up artist Paul Johnson at North Bennet Street School in Boston and a two-day pop-up intensive with Stephanie Mahan Stigliano at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She also watched Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of Spongebob SquarePants on YouTube to learn how to draw and bought drawing software and a tablet.

Then Price put her training to use and made a dummy of the book—it took roughly 12 hours per page to cut, score, and fold by hand—and submitted it to traditional publishers. However, she was told the book was too local and wouldn’t interest readers outside Boston.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

Here’s a link to Freedom Trail Pop Up Book of Boston

gammock

24 March 2015
Comments Off on gammock

From The Oxford English Dictionary Word of the Day:

gammock, n.2

. . . .

A piece of fun; a game, a jest; a frolic

. . . .

1904 C. M. Gaskell Old Shropshire Life 258 She has dared to come here… I tell thee I’ll have naught to do with witches and their devil gammocks.

Link to the rest at Oxford English Dictionary

agra

17 March 2015

From the Oxford English Dictionary Word of the Day:

agra, n.

. . . .

Irish English.

As a term of endearment: ‘my love’; ‘dear’.

. . . .

1847 Trollope Macdermots I. ix. 213 Kathleen, agra,..bring me a glass of sperrits, will you?

Link to the rest at Oxford English Dictionary

Scholastic Acquires Teen Author Aija Mayrock’s Self-Published Survival Guide to Bullying

18 February 2015

From PR Newswire:

Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company, has acquired North American rights to 19-year-old Aija Mayrock’s self-published ebook, The Survival Guide to Bullying. The revised Scholastic edition (The Survival Guide to Bullying: Revised Edition) will be published simultaneously in paperback and ebook formats in July 2015, with a hardcover library edition to follow in September 2015.  The deal was negotiated by Debra Dorfman, VP and Publisher, Scholastic, and Jay Kramer for Aija Mayrock.

Written by a teenager who was bullied throughout middle school and high school, The Survival Guide to Bullying offers a fresh and relatable perspective on bullying. Along the way, author Aija Mayrock offers guidance as well as different strategies that helped her survive even the toughest of days. The Survival Guide to Bullying covers everything from cyber bullying to how to deal with fear and how to attain the self-confidence to achieve the life the reader dreams of having—from inspiring “roems” (rap poems), survival tips, personal stories, and quick quizzes. The updated Scholastic edition also features new, never-before-seen content, including an epilogue and an exclusive Q&A with the author.

. . . .

“We were all immediately blown away by Aija’s book and the strength of her voice,” said Debra Dorfman. “What a feat for such a young woman to take a painful personal experience and turn it into a beacon of hope!  We knew immediately that with our extensive connections to kids, parents, and teachers, Scholastic would be the best home and platform for her to reach people affected by bullying.”

“When Scholastic told me they wanted to publish my book, it was a dream come true,” said Aija Mayrock. “It was only a year and a half ago that I won the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for my poetry. That was the moment that changed my life and gave me the confidence to write the first page of this book. I am so honored to be part of the Scholastic family.”

Link to the rest at PR Newswire

mizzle-shinned

16 February 2015

From the Oxford English Dictionary Word of the Day:

mizzle-shinned, adj.

. . . .

Having one’s legs red and blotched from sitting too near a fire.

. . . .

1854 D. Robertson Laird of Logan (new ed.) 51 Dinna mak ony body suffer by ye, as thae scranky-shanked mizzle-shinned Highlanders do.

Link to the rest at Oxford English Dictionary

Newspaper group charges students £120 for chance of a by-line

12 February 2015

From the National Union of Journalists:

Newsquest, the UK’s third largest publisher of local and regional newspapers, is charging students £120 for the chance of having their work published in one of its titles.

Diana Jarvis, who coordinates the group’s Young Reporter scheme for Newsquest South London, has written to colleges with journalism courses. She said the scheme was open to students who want to build a portfolio of work before they graduate.

She said:  “This opportunity is an exciting and unique chance to experience working for a local paper and allows students to build up a portfolio of their published work over the eight months. Unlike school students, the university students are studying the subject so will have an advantage of possibly getting their articles published in our actual newspapers around London.”

The university or college is expected to pay £100 and the student a £20 registration fee to take part.

The students, she said, “would work as journalists for an online newspaper, writing one article per month for a period of eight months.  All articles written are uploaded onto our local online paper, which covers the whole of Greater London. At the end of the scheme all students who complete all eight articles, receive a letter of recognition from the editor, which they can use as a reference with their cvs and their names go into our Award Ceremony brochure, which is distributed around London”.

. . . .

Michelle Stanistreet, National Union of Journalists general secretary, said:

“While Newsquest is sacking professional staff on its titles, it is charging journalist students for writing articles for them. The unpaid intern has become the scourge of the media profession – now Newsquest is asking for journalist students to actually pay for a by-line. The company’s cynicism beggars belief, and preys on young people desperate to get a break in a competitive industry.

“College lecturers tell me they are outraged and they are quite right to be. We also know that Newsquest is using students to do shifts at its subbing hub in Newport, after sacking sub-editors on its newspapers across the land.

Link to the rest at National Union of Journalists

In Defense of Self-Publishing

12 February 2015

From author Marcy Goldman via PBS:

There are so many op-eds these days on when or if to self-publish, and even more so, features (albeit they’re dwindling) on how inferior self-published works are — just by the very fact they are self-published. This premise is applied even if the self-publishing author has the budget, foresight and professionalism to engage all manner of expert editors, proofreaders, formatters, designersand thoroughly research the distribution and promotion of his or her work. There’s also a presumption (or fear) that without sufficient social media or a platform, books (even great ones) won’t get noticed — that is, if you publish it, who will find you or it? This suggests that Shakespeare or Elizabeth Gilbert, without the benefits of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, or a YouTube video of “Othello,” would never have been discovered  — which suggests that we, as authors, creators and publishers, actually believe form trumps content.

And these opinions never cease to amaze (and annoy) me. For one thing, there’s a passion, even a nervous derisioncol or tempered dismissiveness, offered to self-published authors in most of the opinion pieces I’ve read. There’s the assumption that a self-published author is a “never-published author” or “can’t-find-a-book-deal author.” The articles I’ve read also seem to refer to fiction writers when there are many other types of authors. I am, in fact, a cookbook author — another genre of author now in the fray.

. . . .

Cookbook authors are writers. We are not verbose home economic teachers –- we are specialty writers with a second specialty in food. Some, as I am, are trained chefs in addition to being wordsmiths. Consequently, our challenges are even more so than regular writers. We battle the plethora of amateur recipe blogs and zillions of free recipes, the charisma of celebrity chefs on TV, blogs or YouTube phenoms. In addition, our books require expensive food photography and complicated book design, our recipes need extraordinary copy editing, and we also need legions of volunteer recipe testers to make sure our recipes work. When it came to food photography in our cookbooks, many a time my advance (in traditional publishing) was a quarter that of the photographer’s budget.

In short, if you think self-publishing the average black-and-white 300-page paranormal novel is difficult, try self-publishing a 300-page full color cookbook.

. . . .

So it’s not about money –- self-publishing garners you 70 percent royalties versus 15 percent royalties at traditional publications. Indeed, if it were, wealthy authors would do it themselves. On the flip side, what is more prestigious is saying you’re a Random author or Scribner author -– at least, when that meant something and had a fiscal bottom line.

But here’s my pain: Overall, there is a premise that if you self-publish, you are either an inferior or unaware author. Having had a reasonable advance, you somehow chose to “go rogue” and venture into self-publishing, whether it is due to a misplaced vanity press adventure spirit or the idea you could out earn on your own what a traditional publisher would be offering you.

As a traditional and well-established cookbook author with a track record and solid book sales, I don’t see myself represented in these discussions, and yet I am part of a silent majority –- the mid-list cookbook author.

. . . .

After 25 years of great publishers, great cookbooks — and what I thought was an upward spiraling career — I self-published my first cookbook, “When Bakers Cook,” two months ago. I did this not because I wanted to but because I had to. I love words, books, and in my case, creating ambrosial baking that I want to share with my readers. As publishing up-ended itself, I realized — with skepticism, then denial, anger, sadness and finally, pro-activeness — I had three choices. I could quit and be a Wal-Mart greeter. I could take tiny (untenable) advances and supplement that with freelance writing. Or I could dive into the Bermuda Triangle of self-publishing.

I’m a Taurus and we don’t quit, so I chose Door No. 3 — self-publish.

. . . .

And let it also be said that we can no longer assume that having a traditional book deal ensures a “team” of editorial and sales help –- things are lean everywhere. Speaking more directly to that, I recently was in Barnes and Noble and stumbled on a cookbook by a great colleague, produced by a huge publisher renowned for their wonderful cookbooks. In this book was a neat three-page addendum of text and recipe errors. My point is, we can no longer assume perfect and quality is only the domain of traditional publishing.

Link to the rest at PBS

Here’s a link to Marcy Goldman’s books.

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