I was one of the first bloggers to write for the Huffington Post. Back in 2006 I was invited to contribute. This was less than a year after you founded what was then called (by bemused media commentators who were trying to figure out what you were up to) an “online newspaper.” Since that time I’ve written well over 150 articles for you, more than five hundred thousand words. In other words, about three books worth!
Some of my pieces have received many thousands of comments and have been read by hundreds of thousands of readers (actually, millions since they went “viral” appearing in hundreds of other
In an article published February 9 on Salon.com, Laura Miller examines the long-argued notion that women are underrepresented in book criticism — both in terms of what books are covered, and who covers them, expanding on a piece in The New Republic by Ruth Franklin. Now, I will not argue Miller’s thesis. I read a fair amount of book coverage, and for the most part — especially in notoriously stuffy literary journals — it seems that the majority of review space and bylines are given to men. My problem with Franklin’s original piece and Miller’s expansion are where they go from there.
Let’s start with how Miller herself promoted the
Broom of the System vs. Freedom
David Foster Wallace once said, “Fiction’s about what it is to be a human being,” a notion he followed so meticulously while accurately portraying the human condition, through endless dialogue and tangent stories, within the pages of Broom of the System. Twenty years later Jonathan Franzen did the very same within the pages of Freedom, but this time in using lyrical sentences and flushed out character depictions, sharing the journey of a modern family, with all their quirks, scars, and demons far and in between.
David Foster Wallace and Jonathan Franzen have been friends since the early onset of their careers. Pen palls for the duration, their letters have been published and studied by fans and literary
“Do I really need an author website?” We get asked that question every day by an author, or someone who wants to be one. Having spent lots and lots of time and energy constructing one ourselves, we are big believers in author websites, but we decided to take this question to the person we consider the expert on the subject: Annik LaFarge. Annik is the author of The Author Online: A Short Guide to Building Your Website, Whether You Do it Yourself (and you can!) or You Work With Pros. She also happens to have spent twenty-five years as an executive in the book publishing business, working at Random House, Simon & Schuster, Addison-Wesley, and Bloomsbury
I was sitting with a plastic cup of Cabernet and flipping through a magazine, waiting for my oldest son’s soccer game to start (cocktails are served on the second floor of the facility with a great view overlooking the field. Score.) Within a few minutes, my ex–and father of my eldest–arrived with his wife, who he’s been married to for six years. Soon after, we spotted my ex’s mom and step-dad on the lower level and waved them up. Somewhere during the first half of the game, my husband showed up with our 3-year-old
When I showed up for my first day of work at The New Yorker magazine in 1972, I was greeted by my theatrically busy boss, Mrs. Harriet Walden, “Quick, quick, we’ve got three deadlines today!”
Mrs. Walden ran her twentieth-floor editorial pool with manic efficiency and decorum. We must be charming workhorses — refined thoroughbreds who could haul our weight in
It must be a truth universally acknowledged that Miss Rosanne Cash is possessed of the good fortune of a sharp wit equal to that of Miss Eliza Bennet. Forget about all those other Austen mashups. The best par none are Rosanne’s #JaneAustenAtTheSuperBowl tweets.
read full news from www.huffingtonpost.com
Jana Leo’s Rape New York, published by The Feminist Press, takes what is often pushed into silence — rape — and blows it open as a social construct, and something everyone who lives in a community has to inevitably interact with in some form. Leo analyzes everything from the construction of cities, to the layout of apartment buildings, and the way developers, mayors, police and landlords construct their roles to avoid responsibility. It’s a complicated tale of how we ended up in a society where one out of four women are raped. But Leo takes this too-often-silent reality and pulls her readers through a dark but necessary analysis of how we got
We all have them: writers who reached us at an early age, wrote something that penetrated our minds, our hearts, our souls; writers who captivated us when our minds were soft and ripe, eager for stories to get lost in. Today, one of mine passed away. His name was Brian Jacques. And I’ll never forget what he did for me.
I’ve aways been a
Like everyone else, I just celebrated the National Holiday that is the Super Bowl. And like everyone else, this morning — the Day After — I’m discussing the highs and lows. The music: How on earth did Christina Aguilera mess up the lyrics to the National Anthem? And why does she growl so much? The ads: So many movies I can’t wait to see; my hormones are exploding at the idea of Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford fighting aliens together! The game itself: As a Bears fan, it’s tough to be happy for Green Bay but I certainly wasn’t rooting for Big Ben.
It’s a conversation — you could say our annual National Conversation. And we’re discussing movies, music, sports — but not books.
And really, why is that? What’s stopping a publisher — or a bunch of publishers together — from buying a 30 second ad for the Super Bowl? What’s stopping publishers from advertising books in places lots of people actually frequent? (And hint — that’s not necessarily The New York Times ‘ book section.)
We in this industry — authors, publishers, devoted readers — moan the fact that books aren’t really sexy, compared to all the other forms of entertainment out
Caroline Leavitt’s ninth novel, Pictures of You (Algonquin Books), drew me into the fractured and lonely lives of two strong women who are about to collide, literally and figuratively, from the first page. There’s the gamine, independent, creative spirit Isabelle, who’s running away as fast as she can from her marriage, having found out recently that her childhood sweetheart has been cheating on her. And there’s the mysterious, nervous, frayed and saddened April, who has let the heavy fog on the road get the better of her, and stands caught in the final moment of her existence as her young son runs screaming into the woods. We don’t know – yet – what has drawn April there and why she doesn’t run from the scene.
Leavitt’s formidable skill as a writer is evident from beginning to end as we piece these lives together to find out what brought them to this world-ending
In the middle of Cairo’s Tahir Square, 36 year-old single mother Amal Sharaf brings her daughter to her tiny office where she and about ten others work tirelessly to overthrow Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. “I think we can do it,” Sharaf meekly tells NBC’s Richard Engle.
Armed with six cell phones, she places hundreds of calls a day encouraging Egyptians nationwide to come to the capital city. Her daughter has been seen sitting by her mother’s side in a pink scarf and plaid sneakers playing games on a microcomputer as history unfolds around
In the first pages of Stanley Fish’s new book, How to Write a Sentence (with the clever subtitle, And How To Read One), Fish admits that “I am always on the lookout for sentences that take your breath away…” Like Fish, I am a sucker for a beautiful turn of words, a devoted recorder of spot-on phrases, and a willing and easy victim of solar-plexus slamming one-liners. But unlike Fish, I never quite understood why a sentence was as good as it was. Now I do. In How To Write A Sentence, Fish explains the magic behind all those sentences I’ve loved through all my years of
2011 is a tough time to be a parent in America. Explaining to our children why a nine-year-old was shot and killed in a rampage in Arizona. Managing the amount of pop culture exposure one’s child should have (if any) to keep from being a social outcast at school. And now, grappling with the fear that if one isn’t a “tiger mother,” we’re dooming our children to a life of mediocrity, if not outright failure.
I’m still working on the first two, but as for being a tiger mother la just-released memoir “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” that’s something I’ll never be, even though my daughter is Chinese by
There is nothing quite like a good book to make time fly and let you escape the mundane trials and tribulations of daily life. I read lots of stuff, serious, nonfiction, you name it…but I have a hungry soft spot in my heart for a good romance novel. And Susan Elizabeth Phillips always delivers.
If you had told me 10 years ago that I would enjoy contemporary romances about sports stars and football players, I would have called you ridiculous and insane. Just goes to show what I
I am a young professor of sociology teaching classes on gender, marriage and social change — and I have never read Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique.” Like many women of my generation, I thought I had. I must have, I told myself. Perhaps in college? No. And it turns out that very few of my well-educated, feminist-leaning friends have either.
When I bring up “The Feminine Mystique” (1963) in passing in lectures, I ask my students if they’ve heard of that phrase, or have heard a reference to “the problem that has no name.” The majority of them raise their hands, but few can tell me what the book was
Three years ago, when Diana and I were kicking around book ideas, there was one that rose to the top for us, one we thought was pure gold. Its working title was: How to Raise a Child Prodigy. Although neither of us were prodigies — a fact that filled us both with regret — and neither of us were parents yet, we felt qualified to write the book anyway, because we were products of Hardass Asian Parenting, which was no different, in our minds, from Prodigy Parenting (see: the long, ever-expanding list of Asian prodigies). Plus, we imagined the book as a way to talk about what it’s like to be Asian American without getting heavy, a way to laugh at ourselves, something honest but still
A couple of years ago, in that rosy flush of a little success and a whole lot of dreams (and fueled, I must admit, by a few too many margaritas), I did something stupid.
I had just sold my book to a big time publisher. I had been published before, to little acclaim, and had spent a lot of years writing and wondering if I’d ever be published again. Turned out, I would be, and this was nothing short of a miracle on the Lourdes scale to me. So a little celebration was in order.
On a neon-lit street in South Beach, standing — all right, swaying — in a tattoo parlor, I promised my husband, myself, a taxi driver and several bemused bystanders that I would get a tattoo — an Alice in Wonderland themed tattoo — if (not when) my novel, Alice I Have Been, hit the New York Times Bestseller list.
Flash forward a couple of
Cross-Posted from the Wall Street Journal Online
The Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, like the Fourth of July and Memorial Day, is one of those days that’s easier to see as simply another beach, ski, or TV sports weekend. But it really is our loss if we don’t stop for a moment and recognize each of these holidays’ deeper meanings and seize the opportunity to reflect on how we can finish the unfinished business of uniting our country and moving our democracy forward.
Here are some books to read during the MLK Day holiday:
“Child of the Civil Rights Movement” by Paula Young Shelton: Written by the daughter of Andrew Young, this children’s book offers an intimate and inspiring story about growing up in the civil rights struggle of the 1960′s amidst Dr. King and his top lieutenants.
“A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.” by Martin Luther King and James
Somebody said: if you’re an intelligent Islamic militant and you had a choice: to take over either Afghanistan or Pakistan, what would you do? You would take over Pakistan, obviously.
Mohammed Hanif, the Pakistani novelist, is observing from Karachi that “even the believers” don’t believe in the war in Afghanistan anymore. No statement of purpose passes the “you’ve got to be kidding” test — not the US professions about stabilizing the region, not the Pakistani Army’s mission to defend its country. Pakistan’s tribal areas that were peaceful before the war have been devastated. The future is
Something I learned early on in this industry is that publishing, like any other industry, is full of scams. Not everyone is unethical; however, there are a certain number of people who prey on someone’s desire for success by offering them pie-in-the-sky promises they can never fulfill. In our series on smart self-publishing, we’re going to look at a few different industry segments, starting first with publishers and finding the right one for you.
These days, there are more choices than ever to get
It’s not all that shocking that TIME recently listed Apple’s iPad as the most sought-after tech gadget in 2010. The capabilities of the iPad, as well as other tablets like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab and HP’s Slate, are virtually endless — you can watch movies, play video games, catch up on the day’s news, or read a novel. Much of what you need is right there in front of you, whenever you need it.
E-books are just one industry of many that has exploded partly due to the growth of tablet sales. Gartner Research predicted that the worldwide sale of electronic e-book readers (like the iPad, the Amazon Kindle, the Barnes and Noble Nook) has increased by 79 percent since 2009, with 6.6 million units in 2010 compared to 3.6 units in 2009. So many people are jumping on the e-book bandwagon because of the simplicity it presents. In most cases, you download an e-book and it’s there at your disposal in minutes or even seconds. Another plus is that e-books are usually cheaper than print books, and some are even free.
It’s not only readers who have joined in on the e-book phenomenon. Best-selling authors are switching gears and publishing their books more directly through digital publishers. The benefit of publishing a book in weeks rather than years across all formats is a huge incentive.
My company FastPencil’s newest venture, FastPencil Premiere, is a next-generation publishing imprint designed for best-selling, established authors. Authors selected see faster publishing times, access to wide distribution channels including bookstores and ebooks, more content control and higher royalties. Some of the top-selling authors who have recently signed to FastPencil’s Premiere include Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for Soul series co-founder) who just launched his latest book “U R The Solution” with co-author Bill Froehlich, Steven Pressfield (“The War of Art” and “Legend of Bagger Vance”) and Guy Gilchrist (The Muppet Babies co-creator and classic newspaper strip “Nancy” cartoonist.)
Pressfield, for example, signed with FastPencil after many of his The War of Art fans kept asking him why the e-book version of the book (not with FastPencil) wasn’t working correctly. He teamed up with FastPencil and saw immediate success with his new The War of Art” e-book. Now his e-book is on a variety of platforms.
Major traditional publishers have also taken notice of the significant change, and some are even taking steps to adapt to the shift.
Seth Godin, a best-selling author who has been in the publishing industry for more than two decades, announced this past summer that he was dropping his publishing house and instead planned to sell his future books directly to his audience. He later announced his newest publishing vision with Amazon, the Domino Project, which will change many of the rules traditionally tied with publishing trade non-fiction. In a recent blog post, Godin writes about getting rid of what he calls the “middleman,” also known as bookstores, which have a limited amount of shelf space.
The creation of e-books has forever changed the publishing landscape. Rather than be at the will of those major publishing fees or product placement, authors have a choice in how they want to market and sell their e-books. Readers have the option of downloading a book for much cheaper than a print version and receiving it in a matter of moments.
If you love food, friends, and camaraderie, and if you would like to hear the story of a club for singles that has nothing to do with dating and has lasted nearly four decades (and is still going strong), you are going to love this guest essay. It was contributed by the renowned historian Mary Beth Norton, one of the founding members of the club. (You can read more about her at the end of this post.) I was so delighted when she agreed to let me share her essay with all of you. She wrote it in 2004. As of 2011, the club still has the same number of women and men that it did then.
The Single Professors’ Cooking Collective (SPCC): A History
By Mary Beth Norton
The 2002-2003 academic year marked the thirtieth anniversary of the founding of the Cornell SPCC –the Single Professors’ Cooking Collective, known more simply as “the cooking club.” A sociologist, our founding mother, had the insight that led to its founding: Single people need families too. The first members of the SPCC in 1972 were a miscellaneous group of her male and female friends, all assistant professors who had been at Cornell only a year or two. Fearing the disdain of department secretaries who would take telephone messages about meeting times for a “cooking club,” we coined the name SPCC for ourselves and, around others, referred to the group only by its initials. As a historian and the only founding member of the group still active in it, I have become its informal chronicler. This is our story.
Initially, we met twice a week (Mondays and Thursdays) for dinner at each other’s apartments. The rules were rigid: dinner was served at 6:30, whether or not everyone had arrived; people could leave shortly after 8; the cook supplied all food and drink and did all the work. The rule most frequently broken forbade the use of the dreaded “T” word: tenure. No member of the original group was tenured, and we tried without success to keep our obsession with that goal out of our conversations. Finally, we lifted the ban, but charged a 25-cent fine to anyone who brought up the subject. At the end of the first year, the proceeds paid for a superb bottle of wine when we went out to dinner together at a nearby French restaurant.
Today the rules are not nearly so strict and the membership of the group is almost completely different. Yet the character of the SPCC remains intact and the institution still serves the same function. The cooking club, which for the past several years has met every third Sunday evening during the academic year, continues to be a place to share with good friends the trials and triumphs of the period since our last get-together, to discuss the latest campus issues, to debate local and national politics, or to ask for advice on a variety of topics (from investments to home repairs to coping with difficult colleagues).
The SPCC serves most importantly as a source of crucial support for us all. The club has seen its members through positive and negative tenure and promotion decisions; through the break-up of personal relationships; through illnesses and crises; through difficult departmental battles; and through the many struggles involved with writing, rewriting, and publishing books and articles. The club helped one member survive the trauma of her husband’s murder and another live through a long period of unemployment. The club has also hosted happy occasions–announcements of weddings, book publication parties, birthday observances, and promotion celebrations.
The club has no formal rule of confidentiality, but, as would members of a family, participants in the SPCC observe considerable discretion when speaking with outsiders about other members’ disclosures. A woman who revealed that as a teenager she had been a baton twirler for an NFL team located near her home town, for example, was concerned lest her older male colleagues learn about her past and use that knowledge to discount her publication record when she was considered for tenure. Members know that they can complain at length about a colleague or a university administrator, and that what they say will not be repeated outside the group.
At the moment the SPCC has eight members, five women and three men. Three decades of experience has shown us that eight or nine is the ideal number. Any more than that, and cooking becomes too much of a chore; any fewer than five, and it’s hardly worth the effort to prepare an elaborate meal. Since we all now lead very active professional lives, at most meetings at least one person is absent, even though we moved our dinners to Sunday nights to minimize scheduling conflicts.
The current members are a university administrator, a former university financial officer, and professors of history, art history, veterinary medicine, and biology. The diversity of fields is deliberate. Again, years of experience have demonstrated that for the health of the group it is important to avoid having too many members in the same field or department. Two historians, two Renaissance scholars, two political scientists, two literature specialists each coexisted in the group at different times without overly annoying the others with shop talk. But when there were three social psychologists or three business-oriented professors the other members occasionally endured conversations that held little interest for them.
Likewise, we have learned that it is critical to have members of both sexes. The SPCC’s history has not been continuous: there was a hiatus of three years (1977-1980) in its existence, for reasons I will explain later. When it reformed in 1980 at the instigation of a female member, she proposed an all-woman group. That configuration lasted exactly one semester. Having no men present changed the nature of the club dramatically, and in ways no one liked. So the core membership of five women quickly recruited three men, and ever since the SPCC has had a male contingent.
Maintaining an appropriate sex ratio is, though, a continuing problem. Many single men cringe at the thought of cooking regularly for a large group. Thus when we seek new members we always seem to have a plethora of female candidates and few possible males. For a time in the 1970s there was only one male member, one of our founders. We all agreed the situation led to poor group dynamics. To solve this problem we have occasionally recruited male participants from among visiting professors; and once we designated as an “honorary single person” a man whose wife commuted to another university. Neither solution was entirely satisfactory, for continuity of membership is one of the keys to our success. (Continue reading here.)
About Mary Beth Norton:
The author of this history of the singles’ cooking club, Mary Beth Norton, is a chaired professor of history at Cornell University. If I were to list all of her honors and awards, this section might just run longer than the post. (You can find some of the details here and here.) So I’ll refrain from reiterating the full honor roll, and just mention a few of my favorite things about her. First, her book, Founding Mothers & Fathers, was one of three finalists for the 1997 Pulitzer Prize in History. Second, when I was writing this, I remembered seeing her name in the New York Times a few times, so I typed her name into the complete archives to remind myself of what I had read, and got 76 listings in return! She has appeared there in sections such as the op-ed page and the books section (both as a reviewer and an author). Third, she appeared on an NBC show to tell Sarah Jessica Parker that she has a family link to the Salem Witch Trials. (What, you don’t think that’s on a par with a Pulitzer Prize?)
This Blogger’s Books from
Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After
by Bella DePaulo Ph.D.
Single with Attitude: Not Your Typical Take on Health and Happiness, Love and Money, Marriage and Friendship
by Bella DePaulo Ph.D.