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Saving Memories with Old New Borrowed Redo

Jungle Red Writers - Wed, 02/20/2013 - 06:00

HALLIE EPHRON: I'm sharing what it was like "Growing Up Ephron" in the March issue of The Oprah Magazine.

The theme for this issue is "De-clutter Your Life" -- something I should certainly do. They asked some fun questions for their contributors page (cleverly titled "Trash Talk"). Here's one of my answers:

The one thing I regret tossing is... my wedding dress. It was lace, with an Empire waist and bell sleeves, but it had a stain so I got rid of it. I wish I'd kept it and turned it into a cute little pillow.

Wouldn't you know, no sooner is the magazine on the stands then I get an email, subject line: Your wedding dress WOULD have made a great pillow!!!!

The message came from Lindsey Radoff and Jennifer Manroel, the talented twins behind OLD NEW BORROWED REDO. They make keepsakes out of those garments that you don't wear but can't bear to throw away. So I invited them over to tell us what they're up to.

Which of you came up with the idea for ONBR and did you have to do a lot of strong-arming to get the other to go along?

LINDSEY RADOFF: I had been talking about how I wanted to make throw pillows from my gown and I was always got the same response: “Great idea, but you’ll never do it.”  Then when I was honeymooning in Maui, we were on a hike and this little idea developed into an idea for a business. 

JENNIFER MANROEL: When Lindsey told me about this idea and instantly I was on board. 

HALLIE: What's the most unique request you've ever had?

JENNIFER: Making a baby blanket out of scraps from a bridesmaid dress.  One of our customers mailed us the scraps in a manila envelope!  We weren’t sure if we even had enough fabric for a baby blanket.  We used fabric as the nameplate to embroider Makayla, the baby’s name and date of birth.

HALLIE: Your biggest, most complicated project?

LINDSEY:  Most of our REDOs are from wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses, but we also redo T-shirts into throw blankets.  One of our customers was a huge San Diego Padres and Chargers fan so we took his t-shirts and also made a quilt.  The blankets range in size and can incorporate anywhere from fifteen t-shirts, up to thirty t-shirts. 

JENNIFER: What better way to surprise your husband on a one-year anniversary than repurpose your wedding gown into lingerie!
HALLIE: You are identical twins, which is like siblings squared. How do you divide the work and deal with the inevitable rivalry?

LINDSEY:  We are definitely siblings squared!  We look a lot alike and we do practically EVERYTHING together! 

Jen is better at designing the keepsakes whereas I have a better eye at pairing new fabrics to match well with the dress. Jen is very organized - in fact, she can't leave our office without making sure everything is neatly put away. So she handles a lot of the day-to-day activity for the company.  I am much better with numbers so I handle the financials.

JENNIFER: I love designing pillows and picture frames and Lindsey loves baby blankets and t-shirt quilts.

HALLIE:  Tell us about the “green” in your business.

LINDSEY:  We are very eco-friendly.  We pride ourselves in the fact that we work with existing dresses and clothing, and we reuse them and repurpose them into keepsakes.  These “one-time wear” dresses are no longer just sitting in our closets; rather, we’re giving customers a way to recycle their dresses and redo them into keepsakes that can be displayed in their homes. 

HALLIE: And keep all those good memories alive. We wish you the best! Visit their store and workroom at http://oldnewborrowedredo.com/.

Do you have save your favorite garments even if you can't wear them? Or are you like me and toss them out blithely, only to wish you hadn't?

Lucky EDITH! You are the winner of Deborah Crombie's THE SOUND OF BROKEN GLASS. Email Debs with your  mailing address (deb at deborahcrombie dot com) 
Categories: Posts by Writers

Crafty Apps for Language-Based Therapy

ASHAsphere - Tue, 02/19/2013 - 08:00


(photo credit)

It is no secret; I have never been a crafty person. During my days in graduate school I struggled a lot with the fact that many of my peers were able to spend hours creating these amazing therapy activities with glue and various types of paper. Yes, I did question my ability to become a speech therapist when I saw one of my colleagues bring the cupcakes she had baked at home along with all these amazing cupcakes decorations for the session. I clearly was not capable of such a thing!  Oh, and of course there are the scrap-booking SLPs! Clearly, I had no idea that SLPs had to dedicate hours preparing meals, buying scrap-booking materials and other tools for various “crafty therapy sessions”. In graduate school, I appealed to my technophile side to create my sessions around my computer. I know what you are thinking…  ”What about the iPad?”. I didn’t even own an iPhone while in graduate school (and the iPad was still years from being invented). Today’s post is dedicated to all my fellow speech therapists and teachers who lack “craftiness” and want to be crafty on the iPad! Blessed be the iPad!

Here are some of my favorite apps for fun, creative, and open language based therapy sessions:

1. Art Maker by ABC’s Play School ( $0.99) – Prepositions, vocabulary and more.

This application allows you to create scenes by selecting from various background options and pieces of craft that go with the theme.  You can also pick from your own photos and add various pieces of provided objects and crafting materials to your photo (see how non-crafty I am based on the photo below). The images are added to your photos. For those of you feeling a little adventurous you can even make a movie as you move the items around the screen. You can use this app for promoting language skills and vocabulary. Prepositions (put the star on her shirt, put the tree next to the dog, etc.) is also a great target to use this app for.

2. Martha Stewart Craft Studio ($4.99) – Story re-telling and sequencing in one place.

This app is worth every penny I spent on it, I just wish I had it 6 years ago! The Martha Stewart app is very easy to use and offers so many possibilities. It allowed a non-crafty person like me to create a scrapbook page! The app comes loaded with possibilities. You can take photos of the students during the session or send a letter to the parents to send some family photos with the kids for the upcoming session. It is an amazing way for working on retelling a story and it is perfect for those sessions with adults! After you create each page you can print and send it home with the child. This is by far a much more cost efficient way to do a crafting session.

3. ScrapPad- Scrapbook for iPad ( Free + buy in app) – Vocabulary &  following directions at no cost.

This app is very similar to the Martha Stewart application. It has several background, stickers, borders and embellishments you can add to each page you create. Using this app can be great for vocabulary as well as for following directions. Just like the previous app, you can also save the final work onto your photos and print them when you are done.

4. Hello Cupcakes (Free + buy in app) – Great app for following directions with amazing visual support.

This fourth app is truly a helping hand for those who want to do a real life cupcake but are not as talented as most of my former co-workers. The app comes with a baking tray which gives you information on which materials you will need to create the cupcakes. This app is just phenomenal; it includes step by step photos you can use for creating each cupcake. The cupcakes can be quite elaborate but this app has so many amazing visuals and it will guide you and your students to create quite the cupcake project. This is the perfect app to guide students, especially students who can benefit from visual support, for working on following directions. The app has amazing visual details. The buy in app options offer a variety of themed cupcake options too.

It turns out that not only I can be crafty, but I love being crafty on the iPad! Should I call myself technocrafty?

Barbara Fernandes, M.S; CCC-SLP is a trilingual Speech- Language pathologist, a geek  and an app developer. She is the founder and CEO of Smarty Ears Apps , a company that creates apps for speech therapy. Barbara is also the face behind GeekSLP TV, a blog and video podcast focusing on the use of technology in speech therapy. Barbara has also been a practicing speech therapist both in Brazil and in the United States. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Groups 16, School-Based Issues, 12, Augmentative and Alternative Communication, and 1, Language Learning and Education. Barbara has created over 21 applications for the mobile devices for speech therapists. Find her at GeekSLP.com or on Twitter at @geekslp.

Categories: Therapy

Deborah Crombie: Dreaming Up The Sound of Broken Glass

Jungle Red Writers - Tue, 02/19/2013 - 04:30
BREAKING NEWS: We're giving away a copy of the book to one lucky commenter... tune in tomorrow to see who wins it...

HALLIE EPHRON: Today, yes TODAY! Deborah Crombie's fantastic new mystery featuring the much married Scotland Yard detectives Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James,  "The Sound of Broken Glass." 

Full disclosure: I loved this book! I was thrilled to read an early copy, and two of the things that stick with me are the characters and and incredible sense of place. I particularly got attached to Nadine and Andy -- she's a young teacher, he's just thirteen and a brilliant musician, and they're both damaged goods. It seems such an unlikely place to start the novel, and yet it works. How did they come to you?

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Andy walked onto the page three books ago, as a very minor character in Where Memories Lie. He was only meant to be a witness to a murder, but he started talking in my head, the way characters sometimes do, and I found I knew just enough about him that I wanted to know more. In the next book I discovered that he had a personal connection with Duncan and Gemma, through Charlotte, and that let me set the stage for telling his story.

Nadine, now, I'm a little reluctant to confess about that, for fear of being thought whacko. I dreamed her. This was certainly my strangest experience as a writer.

When I say dreamed, I'm simplifying. I woke about four in the morning--this was just after I'd finished the previous book, "No Mark Upon Her" --with no recollection of having dreamed, but with a great chunk of what became "The Sound of Broken  Glass" in my head.

I'd known some of Andy's back story, and that I wanted to set the book in Crystal Palace, but suddenly I had Nadine. I got up, got a notebook, and wrote like made for about five hours, knowing that even as I did, some of it was slipping away.

Things changed in the writing of the novel, of course, but the core of the story remained, and more than anything, the atmosphere.

HALLIE: Your series stars DI Gemma James and DS Duncan Kincaid, now married with kids including an adorable three-year-old foster child who's lost her birth parents. Gemma's got a promotion and Duncan stays home with the kids. Gemma's colleague is Melody, a smart female detective. They're investigating the murder of a man found naked, trussed, and strangled in a seedy hotel. Talk about role reversals! Was that deliberate?

DEBS: The previous book, "No Mark Upon Her," was much more Duncan's book, so I certainly meant to give Gemma more focus in Broken Glass. She has a new job, she's working with Melody, and I liked the fact that it was all-female team.  And I had fun with Duncan experiencing the joys and frustrations of the stay-at-home dad.  As for the trussed up barrister, maybe that was my subconscious at work again!

HALLIE: Another character I fell in love with is Poppy -- she's young, dresses like a Betsey Johnson nightmare (fur-lined boots, flower-patterned tights, ruffled skirt, puffy jacket, spiked hair.) She's confident, cheeky, and uber talented with a smoky alto voice. Tell us where she came from?

DEBS: Oh, I love Poppy. She's a vicar's daughter, a musical prodigy. She's smart and funny and confident of her own talent. As well as singing, she plays a fretless bass guitar--no mean feat.

Where did she come from? Hmmm. I wanted Andy to play with a younger female vocalist, a girl with huge potential.

I watched a lot of videos of young British female singers. That helped me work out what kind of voice I wanted her to have, but in the end, Poppy wasn't really like anyone else. The clothes might be her bit of rebellion--or she might just have great marketing instincts...

A funny thing -- I already knew her name was Poppy when I bought a handbag by a designer named Poppie Jones. I still have the tag on my fridge. So Poppy became Poppy Jones.

HALLIE: There is a rich sense of a place, past and a present, that permeates this book. Tell us about Crystal Palace. Is it somewhere those of us who go to London as tourists might have been to?

DEBS: I have a friend who moved a few years ago from the Notting Hill area of London to Crystal Palace, and he kept telling me I had to set a book there. When I went to visit for the first time, I was hooked.

As the highest point in South London, it's somewhat geographically isolated, especially in bad weather (as we see in the book!) That alone gives the area a unique character, but I was also
fascinated by the history of the Crystal Palace and by Crystal Palace Park. There is something so atmospheric about the ruin of something that was so remarkable.

I was also introduced to Antenna Studios, the recording studio where Andy plays with Poppy, and it was just too great not to use.

While Crystal Palace is certainly off the usual tourist path, I'd highly recommend it on a NICE day. (When it's cold, it's colder in Crystal Palace. The winds swirling around the hill can be ferocious.) Have lunch or a drink at the White Hart, which is the White Stag in the book. (I only changed the name because I'd named some of the staff.) Have dinner at a wonderful restaurant called Joanna's. And wander down the steep little alleyways. You might just stumble across Antenna Studios and The Secret Guitar Shop.

HALLIE: Music is everywhere in this book, and I have to ask if you have performed or played? And maybe give us a play list that would go with the book?

DEBS: I am, unfortunately, both completely untalented and musically illiterate. Maybe that's part of why music fascinates me so much. My husband does play the guitar very well, however, and I've given Andy his acoustic guitar, the Gibson Hummingbird.

I read every guitar-player autobiography I could find, and talked to guitarists, song-writers, singers, and producers. Such fun research. I hope readers enjoy it as much as I did.  And I listened to a lot of
music. Here's a fun--if slightly bizarre-- playlist on Spotify.

HALLIE: Congratulations on a fabulous book. Where can readers catch up with you on tour?

DEBS: Thanks, Hallie!  I'll be in Houston, Phoenix, LA, San Francisco, Chicago, and Dallas.  Here's a link to the specific events.

And if readers want to know more about Crystal Palace, there are wonderful images on my Facebook page:

Note: In the photo, I'm camping it up in the rehearsal space in Antenna Studios.  You can see a bit of the view down the hill in the background. Photo credit: Steve Ullathorne

HALLIE: Well, all I can say is I want what Debs is eating before she goes to bed so I can have her dreams. I confess, I wake up with a great idea, scribble down the idea, and in the morning have no idea what the heck I was talking about.

Anyone else have the great luck with dreams that Debs does?
Categories: Posts by Writers

How I Got a Six-Figure Twitter Following (and Why It Doesn’t Matter)

Jane Friedman - Tue, 02/19/2013 - 04:00

It’s almost a running joke. Whenever my manager introduces me at an event, he always starts by saying how many Twitter followers I have, which is inevitably far more than anyone else in the room. Today, my follower number is a little over 175,000, and it grows by a few hundred every week.

How did my Twitter following reach six figures?
  1. I was an early adopter. I started my Twitter account (@JaneFriedman) on May 22, 2008.
  2. I’m active. Except for the first 7-8 months of joining Twitter, I’ve been actively tweeting for more than four years.
  3. I’m relentlessly focused. Mostly I tweet about writing, media, publishing, and technology.
  4. I mostly share links that I hope are helpful or insightful.
  5. I’m somewhat reserved. It’s rare for me to tweet more than 6-8 times per day. (My total number of tweets has not yet cracked 10,000.) The way I look at it: Each tweet is a potential waste of someone’s time.
  6. I joined Twitter while I was publisher of Writer’s Digest, and I also created the Writer’s Digest Twitter account. Writer’s Digest now has about 370,000 followers, and for its first two years, I operated its account in tandem with mine. It was helpful to have my name associated with a big brand when I got started.

However, none of that probably matters as much as what comes next. Here’s a graph showing the history of my follower growth on Twitter:

One immediately wonders: What was I doing from summer 2010 through fall 2011—the part where the graph is stepping up? A few things:

  1. I started blogging better (better headlines, better topics, better solutions for writers) and blogging more consistently. (This was during my years at There Are No Rules at Writer’s Digest.)
  2. I ran a weekly blog feature called Best Tweets for Writers. I curated a few dozen of the best online articles (for writers) I’d found via Twitter. The series started around May 2009 and concluded in summer 2011, when I asked Porter Anderson to take the reins, and he created Writing on the Ether.
  3. Also during this time I was actively live-tweeting conferences and other events, which usually results in a following boon.

My blog content reinforced what I was doing on Twitter, and what I was doing on Twitter reinforced the blog. I created a rather virtuous circle that I believe boosted the follower count. But most important, the Best Tweets round-up wasn’t about myself or my own content. It was about drawing attention to other excellent work, which resulted in a lot of mentions, links, tweets, and so on. Some call this link-baiting, and it’s a fairly well-known strategy for building blog traffic. If done well, everyone wins.

There was one thing out of my control, which I can’t track very well: At some point, I became one of Twitter’s “Suggested Users” in the Books category. If I’m still there, I believe my account is listed fairly close to the bottom. If I was being shown higher around 2010-2011, that could also be playing a significant role. But keep in mind, I probably would’ve never been listed if it weren’t for the activity I’ve just described.

Why the Size of My Twitter Following Doesn’t Matter

Some studies show that smaller, more loyal followings are more effective. Check out this ReadWriteWeb article from 2010:  The Million Follower Fallacy: Audience Size Doesn’t Prove Influence on Twitter. That aside, here’s a big reason why no one needs to be impressed by my following:

[You can check your own stats for free by clicking here.]

What does this mean? That my following is more accurately stated as 71,750, after you weed out the fake and inactive accounts. Of those “good” accounts that follow me, how many do I actually engage? Klout notes that, in the past 90 days, I’ve had more than 2,000 mentions and 1,000 retweets. That’s probably a better reflection of how many I influence via Twitter.

And now you know not to be impressed by that 175,000 number.

The post How I Got a Six-Figure Twitter Following (and Why It Doesn’t Matter) appeared first on Jane Friedman.

Categories: Posts by Writers

On Names We're Saddled With...

Jungle Red Writers - Mon, 02/18/2013 - 04:30
HALLIE EPHRON: True story --
A local nurse read a baby's name off a chart.  La-a.
Nurse says to the mother, "That's a nice name. Lah-ah."
Mother says, "It's Ladasha."

Of course, grammarian that I am, I would have wanted to correct her, because of course it should be Lahyphena.

And why not? In this day and age where we had Kei$ha and an artist known as ...

But mostly I thought Wow, Neat -- think of all the possibilities:
La, ("Lacomma")
.an ("Periodan" if it's a boy - "Dotan" is it's a girl)
Suz& (Suzampersand)
Ma~ (Matilde)

Let's hear it for names that give life to keys that would never otherwise get struck!
This is heady stuff for a girl who grew up hating that she had a name no one else had, yearning to be Carol or Barbara or, please pretty-please, Elizabeth?

Did you love your name, or not so much. If you could have named yourself (I know, I know, some of us have), what would it have been?

HANK PHILLIPI RYAN: MATILDE!!I will laugh for the next five days. More to come.

RHYS BOWEN: Those were terrific, Hallie. I've just been looking at my keyboard and realize we already have Mark and Asterix--and I've just noticed something I didn't realize I had... I have a Euro symbol. How about that? I feel very cosmopolitan.

And I remember mentioning once that Hashtag sounds like a word from Mordor. I think if I were going to be a recording artist I'd call myself *--as in Rising Star.

And I grew up hating my name too. So glad to have become Rhys which sounds serene and friendly.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  We have numbers, too!
 Like I could be reporter K8 []. (Kate Bracket) 
Or a rock singer, / (Slash, right?)
Or at the doctor, have a :oscopy.

My name is Harriet which I hated until last year, now I love it. My father wanted to name me "Harmony" (He was a music critic back then.) Luckily cooler heads prevailed. I always think if I *had* been Harmony, I might still have wound up H&K.  (Okay, that'd be HANDK, but I'm all 4 it.)

LUCY BURDETTE: My brains are leaking into my current novel so I'm incapable of coming up with anything too clever--just admiring your stuff, ladies!

I was named Roberta because my father was so desperate to have a son and shocked that it was me instead. (His name was Charles Robert.) There were two other choices, Priscilla (no offense, but thank you god on that one!) and Janet Susan. My mother's name was Janet, my older sister's Susan Janet. They weren't reaching too far, were they?

So I was called Bobbie right up until I went to graduate school and returned to Roberta. I can tell now which era my friends and acquaintances are from.

Did you know there is a Facebook page called "is your name Roberta?" Every member of course is named....Roberta!
But now I'm having so much fun being LUCY!

ROSEMARY HARRIS: I didn't like the name Rosemary very much when I was growing up. No one else had the name except for the gal with the bow on Dick van Dyke (actually she was Rose Marie) and Rosemary Clooney. Not exactly the women you want to be lumped together with when you're 12.

Then there were the clever souls who said "Rosemary..like Rosemary's baby!" Wow. Brilliant.

Older friends call me Rosie or Ro, which I like. Looking around the keyboard I don't see any symbols that would work for me - but I do like the idea of Control. ;-)

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I hated Debbie when I was growing up. My mother swore she didn't name me after Debbie Reynolds, that Deborah was a biblical name. Well, so it may be, but my parents weren't churchgoers, and I never believed her.

For a while in grade school I tried to get people to call me "Denny" --heaven knows why--but it didn't work. It wasn't until I was a published author that I insisted people stop calling me Debbie. I actually like Deborah, and Deb, and best of all Debs, so now don't mind my name. But I cannot think of a single clever way to punctuate it.

(I would have loved to have been called Hallie, or Hank, or Bobbie, or Rhys, or Rosemary, or Julia!)

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I confess, I love being a Julia. I highly recommend it as a name. As for L33T names, I can see P@ (my brother's name) Ma~a, as in the Australian national song, and &rew, nicknamed &y. We could eat <> soup while reading Marx's "ic Materialism and listening to Rosemary Clooney sing , ona my House. I know it's an old song, but I'm su%amental.


This is all taking me back to the summer when our daughter went to overnight camp and when we came to pick her up two weeks later, everyone was saying good-bye to her called her Sam (her middle name is Samantha.) Now I think she doesn't mind her name.

So should punctuation marks join the letters of the alphabet, or remain separate beasts?
Do you love your name or not so much. I know I've grown into mine.

Categories: Posts by Writers

Trost essen für Sie!

Jungle Red Writers - Sun, 02/17/2013 - 02:30
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING:  For me, there are two kinds of comfort food. One is the traditional American dish circa 1960: Homemade mac and cheese, meatloaf, stew, spaghetti and meatballs. Basically, the meals my grandmothers made.

The other kind of comfort food is German cooking. I spent a significant piece of my childhood in Stuttgart-Vaihingen, when my family was stationed at Patch Barracks. My mother was never the sort of military wife to stay shut up in the base; we traveled throughout much of Europe and enthusiastically partook in the culture of Bavaria. This has left me with a live-long affection for hedgehogs, tracht (the traditional clothing of Austria and Bavaria) and German food.

The problem is, it's hard to find a good German/Austrian restaurant. There was exactly one I knew of in DC (is the Cafe Mozart still in business?) and zippo in the greater Portland, ME area, despite our city being a notoriously foody town. We used to go to the Silver Swan when visiting NYC, but that closed a few years ago. Since then I've been scoping out the eateries in Yorkville, the traditionally German neighborhood in Manhattan.

As an adult, I copied my mother's recipes and taught myself to make schnitzel and sauerbraten and karottensalat and kartoffelpuffer aka latkes (sadly, mine never come out as good as Mom's.) I've also developed some super-quick German-ish meals that my family really likes. This is one of them. Take the measurements with a grain of salt (pun intended.) I never actually measure when I cook, so I'm guesstimating on the sauce ingredients. You should definitely taste and adjust accordingly.

German Potato Salad Cassarole
 Three pounds potatos, peeled (if thick-skinned) and cubed. I add one pound extra for every teen who will be eating. Count 12-year-old girls as teens.
1/3 pound bacon, diced
1 onion, diced
1/2 to 1 keilbasa, or smoked sausage of your choice, sliced into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 Tbls brown mustard - the spicier, the better
Water to make sauce 
Relish or chopped sweet pickles

Put the potatoes on to boil while assembling and chopping the other ingredients.  In a deep skillet or a pan, start frying the diced bacon. You want it to release its fat before adding the onions. Saute onions until limp, then add the kielbasa.
Add flour and stir until it thickens up like paste. You may need to add more flour. Once you have your roux (paste) toss in the rest of the ingredients. Mix well, then stir in water, slowly, until the sauce has the consistency of gravy. Here's where you taste it: it should have the characteristic sweet/sharp flavor of German sauces. If necessary, add more vinegar, brown sugar or  mustard. I don't cook with salt, but if you do, you can add it in as well.

Drain the potatoes. Mix well with the sauce and stir in relish or sweet pickles. Guten Appetit!
Categories: Posts by Writers

News of the Week

Jungle Red Writers - Sat, 02/16/2013 - 02:30

Sandi is the winner of the complete set of E.J. Copperman's Haunted Guesthouse series! Sandi, please contact E.J. with your info.

Banana Joe. Dog, or Ewok? You be the judge.

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING:  We don't tend to comment on current events much here (unless they're related to Downton Abbey!) but after a week like this last, how can we resist? Last Saturday, those of us on the East Coast were buried under The Snowstorm Of The Century (TM). In the seven days since then:

1. The President gave the State of the Union address
2. Benedict announced he would be the first pope in 600 years to resign
3. An Affenpinscher was named Best in Show at Westminster
4. North Korea exploded something nuclear
5. "Blade Runner"/Olympian Oscar Pistorius was arrested for murder
6. Lady Gaga cancelled her 29-city North American tour after 13 stops
7. The Illinois State Senate passed a bill allowing same-sex marriage in the Land of Lincoln.
"Missed it by THAT much, chief."Whew! What do you think about the interesting times we live in, Reds?

 HALLIE EPHRON: Interesting, isn't it, how what passes for today's "news" ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous. You didn't mention them, but I'm riveted by the stinky cruise ship limping into port and impending asteroids. Which makes me wonder if "news" isn't a ploy to keep us from paying attention to the really scary stuff (like global warming and untreated mental illness) that we tell ourselves we can't do anything about.

Most inappropriate head shot EVER.HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I read the newspapers, three of them every weekday, the Times, The Globe and the Herald, in the car on the way to work. Often I read the articles out loud, so Jonathan isn't only the chauffeur. (Weekends, we read at the breakfast table.) Some days I say: How am I supposed to KNOW all this knowledge?Like--oh, Timbuktu is in Mali? The what, the sequester?

How do I know what really MATTERS? (That's what haunts me about the news.It's all NEW things. Some of it will be history, but what?)

And Julia, how about the rogue cop on the run in the shootout in California?  And the desperate drink of water by Marco Rubio? MIchelle Obama's bangs? And what the heck is the Harlem Shake?

Sometimes I make up stuff when I am reading out loud to Jonathan just to see if he'll notice. He rarely does. 

Am I the only one who hears the Love Boat theme?JULIA: I can't believe I forgot the Poop Boat.

LUCY BURDETTE: Yes, I too am obsessed with the cruise ship, both because we see a lot of them in Key West. And I've been on cruises. And cannot imagine how AWFUL that experience must be! Decks awash with poop? Nothing to eat? People getting sick left and right? No amount of sanitary hand cleanser could save me...

And the rogue cop--absolutely terrifying. All those families worrying they are next in his sights...the scariest kind of thriller, but REAL!

and ps, I did not care for Michelle's bangs...
The Pope shows the expiration date in his zucchetto.
ROSEMARY HARRIS: I'm still getting over the shock of Lady Sybil dying - oh wait, you meant real news.

I think the Pope's resignation has been the big recent news for me. I'm officially Catholic (not that anyone, including my Jewish husband would notice) but it is something of a big deal. And I coincidentally watched a terrific HBO special called Mea Maxima Culpa about scandals in the church and how Benedict, before he was Pope, was charged with handling (finessing?) many of them.

I've stayed away from the rogue cop, poop decks,and anything to do with Lady Gaga. That said, LOVED Michele's bangs. Hated Scalia's hat.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: How can we not talk about the asteroid fly-by! The 150 foot Asteroid 2012 DA14 whizzed by a mere 17,150 miles from earth, the closest known approach of an object that size.  This was a near-miss in astronomical terms, and an impact would have been the stuff of science fiction. And at the same, but merely coincidentally according to scientists, a meteor slammed into the Ural Mountains in Russia, injuring a reported 1,100 people.  The meteor, estimated to be about 10 tons and 49 feet wide, entered the Earth's atmosphere at a hypersonic speed of at least 33,000 mph and shattered into pieces about 18-32 miles above the ground.  This was fireworks, folks.  Real fireworks, real news.

And on a slightly lesser scale,  I'm fine with Michelle's bangs. Why shouldn't she have bangs?

Real ad. You can't make this stuff up.JULIA: Ambivalent about the bangs. I'd really love it if she went natural.

For me the most shocking news was the famous "Blade Runner." I mean, what is up with athletes these day? One has a fake dead girlfriend, and another (allegedly) kills his real live girlfriend? The Smithie, who ran throughout high school and who still avidly follows the world track stars, texted me, 

I can't help but think that somewhere, there's a smart scriptwriter working on a draft of POSEIDON 2013: a group of cruisers, including a rogue cop, a troubled double-amputee, a lovable Affenpinscher and Lady Gaga, are on their way to see the pope's final mass when their ship breaks down. Can they escape before they get radiation poisoning from the North Korean nuclear bomb launched to stop the killer asteroid on a collision course with earth?

How about you, dear readers? What's your take on the news of the week? And what do you think of Michelle O's bangs?
Categories: Posts by Writers

The Medium has a Message: a guest post by E.J. Copperman

Jungle Red Writers - Fri, 02/15/2013 - 02:30
eta: Jessica Brooks (coffelvnmom) is the winner of Sara J. Henry's A COLD AND LONELY PLACE! Jessica, please contact Sara with your info. Congratulations!

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: We here at Jungle Red love the elusive E.J. Copperman (most frequently seen in the company of notorious Barry-Award winning author Jeffrey Cohen.) The latest book in Copperman's Haunted Guesthouse series, Chance of a Ghost, has just hit the shelves, so of course E.J. is here to tell us all about...
...watching television. 

Which I guess leaves it to me to say you should all  check out Copperman's funny, fantastical mysteries. I know I'm going to pick up Chance of a Ghost. Just as soon as I finish this House of Cards marathon...

I love people who say they don’t watch television. I think they’re lying, but I just love them to pieces. They’re adorable.
People who say they don’t watch television (the really hardcore ones will tell you they don’t own a television) are subscribing to that hoary old notion that because television comes into your home and arrives on a screen smaller than the one in your local movie house, it is somehow an inferior, cheap, dirty conveyor of entertainment. They truly think that reading Mickey Spillane is a more highbrow experience than watching The West Wing. (I’m not discussing Downton Abbey, because I haven’t imbibed the Kool-Aid on that one yet.)
That’s just cute, is all. What decade is this?
I never disparage reading anything, because I think reading is an unparalleled form of entertainment and information gathering. I read for pleasure and I read for work. But I also go to movies and I surf the web and I play stupid games on my Kindle Fire (I read paper books almost exclusively, but you can’t play Scramble in a book).
And I watch television. Yeah, I said it. I watch television and I like it.
Indeed, as a student and (hopefully) practitioner of comedy, I think the best work being done today is on the old box (now really more a rectangle). You think Ted is higher class than the late lamented 30 Rockbecause the screen is bigger? I don’t.
Somewhere in this country (the USA, for our readers from elsewhere) is a household in which the author of such excellent crime novels as Every Secret Thing, I’d Know You Anywhere and By A Spider’s Threadis coexisting (one assumes peacefully) with the creative force behind such cheap television entertainment as The Wire, Treme, and Homicide: Life on the Street. Is one’s work by definition more worthy because it is presented on the printed page and not the small(ish) screen?

When I was a young and struggling writer, I went through a period of unexpected unemployment (that means I got fired from my job and couldn’t find work, kids). It was a very difficult six months, the closest I’ve come to honest-to-goodness depression in my life. Two diversions got me through that time: Robert B. Parker’s Spenser novels, which I had just discovered, and the television series M*A*S*H, brought to television by the genius writer/producer/director Larry Gelbart.
I don’t discount Parker for a moment—the man was a master at what he did—but I think the endless reruns of the Korean War dramedy did more to keep me sane. Seeing the cast go through their trials and maintain a sense of humor kept me grounded. Cheap entertainment? I’d have paid twice as much for it.
This is not a diatribe against books, movies or opera (although I’m not a fan if Groucho, Harpo and Chico aren’t on hand). This is a defense of that underdog of the entertainment business, the boob tube, or as a government functionary famously called it so long ago, the “vast wasteland of television.” 
And he said that in the era when the writer’s room at Sid Caesar’s weekly live program included the wonderful Gelbart (who became a long-distance friend of mine years after saving my sanity), Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Neil Simon, Danny Simon, Lucille Kallen, Sheldon Keller, and some kid who called himself Woody Allen.
That’s some wasteland.
(To be fair, it’s also the time when they told us watching TV was bad for our eyes, that radiation from sitting too close would give us some unspeakable disease, and that seeing all that suggestive material on the airwaves would turn us into a nation of depraved sex addicts. And only one of those things turned out to be true.)
So don’t feel inferior when your friend tells you he or she doesn’t watch television. Consider that means your friend isn’t seeing things like The Daily Show (the smartest comedy done anywhere in decades), Homeland, Mad Men, Arrested Development, The Newsroom, The Colbert Report, or if they subscribe to Netflix, reruns of The Dick Van Dyke Show, Star Trek, 30 Rock, The West Wing or… pretty much anything.
I watch television. I read books, too. Each has a great deal to offer. One night when you can’t find something you might enjoy on television, you might want to take a look at one of my books. I’d be grateful, and sincerely hope you’d enjoy it.
After all, you don’t want to watch TV all the time. That’s bad for your eyes.

I KNOW you have opinions on the boob tube, dear readers. Jump on the back blog to dish on your must-see TV, and one lucky winner will win all four of the Haunted Guesthouse books!

Newly divorced Alison Kerby wants a second chance for herself and her nine-year-old daughter. She's returned to her hometown on the Jersey Shore to transform a Victorian fixer-upper into a charming-and profitable-guest house. One small problem: the house is haunted, and the two ghosts insist Alison must find out who killed them...

Find out more, and read excerpts, at Copperman's website. You can also  friend E.J. on Facebook, follow E.J. on Twitter as @ejcop, and yes, there's even a blog: Sliced Bread.

Categories: Posts by Writers

Welcome to Kid Confidential: Let’s Play!

ASHAsphere - Thu, 02/14/2013 - 08:00

(photo credit)

Welcome to the first installment of Kid Confidential, a monthly column where Maria Del Duca, M.S. CCC-SLP will be discussing all topics related to speech, language and child development. 

First off, let me say that I am not a researcher, I’m an observer.  I’m just a clinician like you using Evidence Based Practice (EBP) and trial and error to make my way in the world of language development.  I do not claim to be an expert, but I have had a hodge-podge of experiences and have worked with amazing clinicians and educators who have taught me along the way.

Through my years of experience and my constant need for information I have exhausted the minds of those with whom I have worked.  I have badgered them with a barrage of questions about why and how they were doing what they were doing.  Most of the time, I have found teachers and therapists willing to share their knowledge with me.  So today, I’m paying it forward.  Let’s talk play skills!

I don’t know about you, but upon completing graduate school I knew a whole lot about normal language acquisition, how to read, understand and review a research article, and how to administer and interpret numerous standardized tests, but I knew nothing about play skills.  Of course looking back at it now, this seems a bit ridiculous when we think of the number of children on our caseloads that are younger than five years of age.  But at the time, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

Research shows us that play really is the work of a child.  We understand that play skills affect cognition, pragmatics and language development.  According to Pretend Play: The Magical Benefits of Role Play, by One Step Ahead:

Pretend play facilitates growth in more than just the areas mentioned above.  Encouraging a child to participate in pretend play positively affects:

  • Imaginative thinking and exploration
  • Abstract thinking
  • Problem Solving
  • Life skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Communication development
  • Social Skills development
  • Use of “Theory of Mind” (understanding/taking another’s perspective)
  • Understanding of safety
  • Self-confidence and a high self-esteem

We know we should assess play skills in young children.  But do we know what developmental play skills look like when we see them?  According to the Developmentally Appropriate Curriculum: Best Practices in Early Childhood Education, otherwise known as “the EC bible” in the world of early childhood educators, there are three distinct types and five social stages of play children typically exhibit between birth and age five (Kostelnik, Soderman, and Phipps Whiren).  Do you know what they are?  Read all about them in the tables below.

You can download your copy of the above tables here.

I would be remiss if I did not share a word of caution when assessing play skills.  There are many cultures that do not value the child-centered, independent play of our western culture.  In order to differentially diagnose deficit versus difference we must keep in mind any cultural differences of the child’s family.  For more information on this topic, read Multicultural Considerations in Assessment of Play by Tatyana Elleseff MA CCC-SLP.

So now we know what typical play skills look like.  How do you assess play skills?  What are your favorite materials to use?  What topics do you want to see discussed here on Kid Confidential?

Don’t be afraid to share your ideas by commenting below.  And remember…“Knowledge is power” (Sir Francis Bacon)!


Kostelnik, Marjorie, Anne Soderman, and Alice Phipps Whiren. Developmentally Appropriate Curriculum: Best Practices in Early Childhood Education. 5. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2011. Print


Maria Del Duca, M.S. CCC-SLP, is a pediatric speech-language pathologist in southern, Arizona.  She owns a private practice, Communication Station: Speech Therapy, PLLC, and has a speech and language blog under the same name.  Maria received her master’s degree from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.  She has been practicing as an ASHA certified member since 2003 and is an affiliate of Special Interest Group 16, School-Based Issues.  She has experience in various settings such as private practice, hospital and school environments and has practiced speech pathology in NJ, MD, KS and now AZ.  Maria has a passion for early childhood, autism spectrum disorders, rare syndromes, and childhood Apraxia of speech.  For more information, visit her blog or find her on Facebook


Categories: Therapy

WRITING ON THE ETHER: Flying Futurists

Jane Friedman - Thu, 02/14/2013 - 06:45

Table of Contents
  1. Tools of Change 2013: Flying Futurists
  2. Books: Reading on the Ether
  3. Conferences of the Future
Tools of Change 2013: Flying Futurists

Look, up on the stage. It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a futurist.

I like the image I’ve chosen for the lead here today on the Ether because that small circle of associates is an impromptu, off-schedule gathering. It’s a ring of a dozen or so colleagues in a sea of 1,200 seats, maybe more, in the Broadway Ballroom complex at New York’s Marriott Marquis between major plenary sequences of keynotes at O’Reilly’s Tools of Change for Publishing Conference (TOC), ending today.

Note: Again today (Thursday, February 14), the keynotes are being streamed live by the incredible O’Reilly team, you can watch them free on the conference’s main page. They run today from 1:10pET / 1810 GMT to about 3pET / 2000 GMT.

I don’t quite scoff at the heavy emphasis we have on “community” these days, but I come close at times. I’m very solitary by nature, I think many writers are.

I’m not always sure that this drive for community isn’t a dodge, a socially endorsed way to avoid doing the lonely work of writing. I tease Dan Blank mercilessly for promoting all this “sharing” everyone is supposed to do so eagerly, and most experiences of community make me less, not more, communal.

Voice, connection & relationships matter. RT @: You can not compete on the internet with just content. #TOCcon @ February 14, 2013 9:10 am via HootSuiteReplyRetweetFavorite @DanBlank Dan Blank

But the urge to band together during the disruption, displacement, dyspepsia, and disarray of the digital dynamic is certainly something others feel. And this small group in that cavern of a room struck me as emblematic of the trend.

O’Reilly Media and Tools of Change founder Tim O’Reilly said in his own, brief and stimulating keynote on Wednesday that we’ve become less afraid of the future. I hope he’s right.

I found myself wishing the future-ish keynotes at the end of the day had been longer. Giving Evan Williams five minutes to demo his latest, Medium, amid a fast parade of talkers kept everybody onstage jogging and most of us in our seats dizzy.

VC doesn’t invest MORE in publishing related startups because the sector doesn’t invest in them. #Toccon @ February 14, 2013 8:54 am via TwitterrificReplyRetweetFavorite @v_clayssen Virginie Clayssen

But when it was possible to follow the fast-bouncing ball, you could her some very cogent comments from author and futurist Douglas Rushkoff—who gave us Cyberia when we thought it was a fad.

From Rushkoff’s fly-by keynote:

Digital is as different from the mechanical-age book as the book is different from the scroll…Before text, we had oral history, but you could always change that. With text we got accountability.

Wikert doing an admirable job of stopping this session being just a Qbend ad – and drawing out some wider takeaways #noteasy #toccon February 14, 2013 8:50 am via TweetDeckReplyRetweetFavorite @SheilaB01 Sheila Bounford

And one of the themes running through this community-cheering conference is text. As in not going away. As spacey as things may be getting, it seems, we’re hearing a lot of folks on various stages talk “about the words” and about it all being “about the words.”

They don’t mention the accountability part as frequently. A mere oversight, I’m sure.

Gotta say, I’ve seen about 25 speakers over the last 2 days and only 3 of them were women. #toccon February 13, 2013 4:43 pm via Twitter for iPadReplyRetweetFavorite @ZoeDattner Zoe Dattner

But because we’re still in mid-conference as I write this, I’m going to take the unusual step of shortening the Ether this week. I’d like to see some more work done on what we’re seeing and hearing—in articles by our colleagues, I mean—before jumping to too many conclusions for which I should be held accountable.

TOC is nothing if not overwhelming each year, and for the best reasons. Joe Wikert and Kat Meyer have outdone themselves this year, starting with our superb first outing of Author (R)evolution Day with co-chair Kristen McLean of WriterCube and keeping up a torrid pace—those flying futurists!—right through the week.

“3 types of book: meal, machine, metaphor” Nix #toccon February 14, 2013 8:52 am via Twitter for iPadReplyRetweetFavorite @micycle Michael Kowalski

I have a separate Extra Ether for you on “#ARDay,” as we hashed it: A Good Day for the (R)evo­lu­tion. I’m really proud of that event, as I told Wikert at breakfast yesterday. Really proud, and very grateful to all who came, followed from afar, and, especially, those who spoke.

And here’s a piece on Bowker’s rollout of a new author service that combines the acquisition of ISBNs for your books with a format-conversion capability, in case you’re shopping for such: Bowker’s 1-Stop eBook Con­ver­sion Service 

And now a shout-down to the DOJ from the ABA. #TOCcon February 14, 2013 8:51 am via HootSuiteReplyRetweetFavorite @beyondDTP Robert Weisberg

Here’s my piece on Sunday’s annual Book^2 Camp at Publishing PerspectivesBook Camp­ground.

I’ve got an Epilogger running on our hashtags #TOCcon and #ARDay here. As I write this, it’s nearing 12,000 tweets and we still have this final day ahead of us.

As soon as we’re done, I’m on a flight to London for the Foyles Bookshop of the Future workshop Friday (the second of two such workshops they’re doing, hashtagged #futurefoyles).

So more to come. More text. More accountability, Mr. Rushkoff.
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CNET coverage of our launch and first book! A startup takes on publishing #NextSteveJobs http://t.co/ySA4NM2N #TOCCON February 14, 2013 7:19 am via Tweet ButtonReplyRetweetFavorite @NetMinds Net Minds

Books: Reading on the Ether/h1>

Of special interest this week, Douglas Rushkoff’s new Present Shock, about which he talked at Tools of Change this week.

The book is, Rushkoff told us, “about the human reaction to living in a real-time…post-linear reality.”

And of ironic importance to authors: “We get into trouble when we choose the wrong forms. You shouldn’t sweat six months on a tweet.”

As each week, the books you see below have been referenced recently in Writing on the Ether, Ether for Authors, or in my tweets.

I’m bringing them together in one spot each week, to help you recall and locate them, not as an endorsement. And we lead our list weekly with our Writing on the Ether Sponsors, in gratitude for their support.


Writing on the Ether Sponsors

Watch for this: The New Intermediation in Publishing – http://t.co/a8ubZt39 #ARday #TOCCon @ @ February 14, 2013 7:49 am via HootSuiteReplyRetweetFavorite @swoodruff Steve Woodruff

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Never metadata I didn’t like. #TOCcon #daythree February 14, 2013 7:43 am via Twitter for iPhoneReplyRetweetFavorite @amystolls Amy Stolls


Conferences of the Future

As usual, please let me know of conferences you’d like me to consider listing though my contact page. And for more about these, see my site’s page on publishing conferences.

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Last day today, February 14 New York City (again at Marriot Marquis Times Square) O’Reilly Media’s Tools of Change for Publishing Conference: “Every February, the publishing industry gathers at the O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference (TOC) to explore the forces that are transforming publishing and focus on solutions to the most critical issues facing the publishing world. TOC sells out every year—don’t miss its potent mix of fabulous people and invaluable information.” Under the direction of Joe Wikert and Kat Meyer.

“How to Change the Future” off the cuff talk at #TOCcon about the future, SF, steampunk and meeting Pres. Clinton http://t.co/Tgde44KP February 14, 2013 7:15 am via webReplyRetweetFavorite @IntelFuturist Brian David Johnson

February 11 and 15 London Foyles and The Bookseller Re-Imagine the Bookshop: In this invitational workshop, “Foyles has partnered with The Bookseller to invite customers and industry experts to help design a new flagship Foyles bookshop on Charing Cross Road for the 21st century with architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands…Participants will be asked to engage with issues such as declining physical book sales; the place of ebooks; the cultural importance of bookshops and author events; the specialist knowledge of booksellers; and how bookshops can provide customers with a place to buy books, however they decide to read them.”

May I give you New Yorkers some advice about celebrating this evening? STAY IN. V-Day is the biggest shitshow of the year for restaurants. February 14, 2013 9:49 am via webReplyRetweetFavorite @Ginger_Clark Ginger Clark

February 19-21 Indie ReCon online: “IndieReCon is a free, online conference…designed to help any writer or author who is curious about the ins and outs of indie publishing. You’ll find everything from the pros and cons of indie publishing, essential aspects in creating a high-quality book, successful online marketing, and expanding into international markets…We will feature more than 30 guests, including…Darcy Chan, CJ Lyons, Bob Mayer, Hugh Howey, M. Leighton, and Samantha Young.”

Teicher sounds like he’s testifying before a Congressional hearing. In 2001. #TOCcon February 14, 2013 8:58 am via Twitter for iPadReplyRetweetFavorite @DonLinn Don Linn


March 6-9 Boston AWP, the Association of Writers and Writing Programs AWP last year drew 10,000 attendees to icy Chicago (it looked like 40,000 attendees when everybody’s coats were on), and, per its copy on the site this year, AWP “typically features 550 readings, lectures, panel discussions, and forums, as well as hundreds of book signings, receptions, dances, and informal gatherings.” The labyrinthine book fair is said to have featured some 600 exhibitors last year. The program is a service-organization event of campus departments, hence the many (many) readings by faculty members and a frequently less-than-industry-ready approach that worries some of us about real-world training the students may be missing.

De reden dat er zo weinig venture capital is in de boekensector is dat er te weinig innovatie in de branche is. #TOCcon February 14, 2013 8:59 am via Twitter for iPadReplyRetweetFavorite @ejbulthuis ejbulthuis

April 5-7 New York City Writer’s Digest Conference East: Author James Scott Bell, who knows the value of coffee, gives the opening keynote address this year at “one of the most popular writing and publishing conference in the U.S. Writer’s Digest Conference 2013 is coming back to New York at the Sheraton New York Hotel. Whether you are developing an interest in the craft of writing, seeking an agent or editor and publisher for your work, or a veteran hoping to keep current on the latest and best insights into reaching a broader readership, Writer’s Digest Conference is the the best event of its kind on the East Coast.”  (Note that this year’s hashtag is #WCE.)

#TOCcon “if #publishers don’t invest in #technology related to their industry, then financial community won’t either” ~Javier Celaya February 14, 2013 8:56 am via webReplyRetweetFavorite @booksiloveapp Books I Love

April 17 New York CitypaidContent Live: Riding the Transformation of the Media industry Brisk and bracing, last year’s paidContent Live conference was efficient, engaging, and enlightening, not least for the chance to see many of the talented journalists of Om Malik’s GigaOM/paidContent team work onstage — Laura Hazard Owen, Mathew Ingram, Jeff John Roberts (in history’s most difficult interview), Robert Andrews, Ernie Sander, et al. Among speakers listed for this year’s busy day: Jonah Peretti, Jason Pontin, Chris Mohney, Erik Martin, David Karp, Mark Johnson, Aria Haghighi, Matt Galligan, Rachel Chou, Lewis D’Vorkin, John Borthwick, Andrew Sullivan, Jon Steinberg, Alan Rusbridger, Evan Ratliff, and, of course, the two people the law says absolutely must be in every publishing conference, Dominique Raccah and Michael Tamblyn.

@ I hope I’m Bruce Springsteen in that equation @ February 13, 2013 9:13 am via Twitter for iPhoneReplyRetweetFavorite @KatMeyer Kat Meyer

 May 2-5 Oxford, Mississippi Oxford Creative Nonfiction Writers Conference & Workshops Susan Cushman follows her Memphis Creative Nonfiction confab with this year’s gathering at the shrine. Among faculty members: Neil White, Leigh Feldman, Lee Gutkind, Dinty W. Moore, Beth Ann Fennelly, Bob Guccione Jr. and Lee Martin. Pre-conference workshops or just the creature itself, your choice.

Publishers need to take on an entrepreneurial mindset #javiercelaya #toccon. February 14, 2013 9:07 am via Twitter for iPhoneReplyRetweetFavorite @WordCoSteve Stephen Ingle

May 3-5 Boston The Muse & the Marketplace 2013 is a production of Eve Bridburg’s fast-rising non-profit Grub Street program. It’s material reads tells us that organizers plan more than “110 craft and publishing sessions led by top-notch authors, editors, agents and publicists from around the country. The Manuscript Mart, the very popular and effective one-on-one manuscript reviews with agents and editors, will also span 3 days. We expect nearly 800 writers and publishing professionals to attend, while maintaining the conference’s wonderfully intimate, ‘grubby’ energy that we love.”

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Uh oh. Pilot & flight attendant just left the terminal with their suitcases. Dun dun dunnnn. #delta February 14, 2013 8:50 am via Twitter for AndroidReplyRetweetFavorite @doctorow Cory Doctorow

Main image: Porter Anderson

The post WRITING ON THE ETHER: Flying Futurists appeared first on Jane Friedman.

Categories: Posts by Writers

Desire Under the Tums: Valentine's Tips for the Middle-Aged

Jungle Red Writers - Thu, 02/14/2013 - 02:30

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Happy Valentine's Day! Every newspaper, magazine and website will be offering a Valentine theme today, and we, dear readers, are no different. Except for this: much of the advice proffered for Valentine's Day is oriented to, shall we say, the novices of love. People dating, or wanting to date, or hoping to make a commitment. Newlyweds and harried young parents wondering if the bloom is off the rose (1) 

Where are the love secrets for those "of a certain age," as the French say? Why, right here. If you're already certainly aged, you know things are different. "Feeling hot in bed" means it's time to ask your doctor about hormones. When your man is getting up in the middle of the night, it's to go to the bathroom. Forthwith, some tips and tricks to keep things popping (and I don't mean your knees.)

1. Take your glasses off. Mother Nature has created a beautiful plan for us: just as our faces start sprouting unidentifiable spots (2), mystery hairs and crow's feet, we lose the ability to see anything closer than two feet away without the aid of powerful lenses. Take those glasses off and watch your beloved's care-worn visage blur into the same fresh-faced youth you met at the disco.

2. Speaking of mystery hairs, most of us ladies know what to do if we want to defoliate. The same can't be said for the men in our lives. Guys who at twenty-five are as smooth as Michael Phelps become Yeti look-alikes at fifty.  If you find flinging your arms around your husband reminds you of bear wrestling, slip him a gift certificate to a local spa for some manscaping. (3) If he resists going, pull out the beard trimmer and tell him to lie down, it won't hurt a bit. (4)

3. Of course, hitting middle age means discovering sometimes it does hurt a bit when you lie down.(5) There's nothing that can douse the flame of love quicker than hearing something go SNAP in the heat of the moment. Not to mention the bad knee, dicey shoulder or tricky lower back you and your beloved are probably sporting. How to get around the fact you're falling apart at the joints? Try gazing into each others eyes and toasting as you down your prophylactic ibuprofen. Consider making "Ben Gay" part of your foreplay.(6) And take a leaf from college kids: ask before you proceed. Questions like "Does this hurt?" "Can you bend like that?" and "Mind if we just forget it and watch Elementary?" will help things run much more smoothly.

4. Finding privacy for those intimate moments can be a challenge if you have teens still at home or twenty-something "rebounders" (7). When they were toddlers, you could stick them in front of a Barney tape and dash off for a twenty minute quickie. Now, they stay up later than you do, and they know about S-E-X (8). What to do? It's difficult to order them outside to play in the fresh air when they're 19 and 22. Try bribing them with money to go to the mall. Some couples find it helpful to play loud, teen-repelling music in their bedrooms. Try 1980's country. (9) A final alternative? Be truthful. A friend of mine swore he could clear the house in under three minutes by loudly announcing, "Mom and I are going upstairs to have sex now."

5. Don't forget the little, tender moments that create a sense of love and intimacy. Consider taking your morning pills side-by-side together. Help each other remember what the hell you came into the kitchen for. Compliment your partner on his sexy relaxed-fit Dockers or her stylin' orthopedic shoes. Take the time to text something besides "Pls pick up dogfd, lghtblbs on way home." Marvel together about the up-and-coming generation's inability to walk three steps without sticking earbuds in their heads (10).

Despite that fact that you're getting weekly AARP solicitations in the mail and you still don't understand Google+, these can, indeed, be the good years. Secure in each other, you don't need to sweat the cards, the flowers, or the overpriced Valentine's Day dinner. Simply take a moment to let your sweetie know that, in your eyes, he or she is the same sweet person you fell for all those years ago (11).  Then whisper the words your beloved is longing to hear:

"Want to watch Elementary tonight?"

(1) It is. Just go with it for a few years.
(2) Go see the dermo.
(3) Of course, if you're a "bear daddy" fan, this could be a huge plus. 
(4) Who knows? You may find out you both like playing The Naughty Inmate and the Stern Prison Matron.
(5) And not in that 50 SHADES OF GRAY way, either.
(6) But for God's sakes, watch where you put it.
(7) Yes, they have their own name, now. Lord help us all.
(8) Although they still suspect their parents have only done it as many times as necessary to make a baby. If you adopted your child, he or she is happy to consider you may NEVER have had sex.
(9) This means, however, you'll have to learn to find Kenny Rogers singing "Lady" a turn-on.
(10) Seriously. What's up with that? 
(11) Pro tip: don't say, "You look weathered, like an old barn." Which is a real thing my husband said to me. And then had no idea why I got mad.

Categories: Posts by Writers

The Once and Future Storyteller: a guest post by Dana Stabenow

Jungle Red Writers - Wed, 02/13/2013 - 02:30
 JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: You know those introductions where the host says, "Our guest needs no introduction," and then proceeds to tell you stuff you already know about the speaker? Yeah, this is one of those times. If you're a mystery lover, you'd have to have been living under a rock for the past two decades not to have heard of Dana Stabenow. New York Times bestseller. Edgar Award winner. Author of three science fiction novels, two thrillers, four Liam Campbell mysteries (Dana, can we have more Liam? Please?) And with the publication later this month of Bad Blood, twenty Kate Shugak books. Oh, and she's also been the president of the Alaska chapter of Sisters in Crime, the chief organizer of the 2001 Anchorage Left Coast Crime convention and chair of the 2007 Anchorage Bouchercon.

All this is a long-winded way of saying when Dana speaks about the book business, smart people listen. Today, she's going to tell us about literature's past, publishing's future, and how she got all those wonderful stories back into readers' hands.

Sometimes I think I should just unsubscribe from all my publishing listserves. This past week (written January 12th) I read three different stories about Barnes & Noble going under. I know I was not alone in noticing, because there was a great online yawp of anguished response from mid-list and wannabe authors, smugness from self-published authors and their adherents, and indifference from those authors who sellenough in Wal-Mart and airport Hudsons and W.H. Smiths to hit the printed list every time, so they don’t give a damn.

In the face of all this continuing doom and gloom on the publishing front, I persevere! I refuse to give up on the notion that stories are necessary, that you and I and all of us scribblers are direct descendants of that guy sitting around the fire, hoping to get a few coins in his bowl before everyone rolls in for the night.

Recently I mentored a young friend through a high school lit class. The reading list was politically correct to the ne plus ultra and dozingly boring, but one of the titles was The Odyssey, and in this one instance I was amazed by how well the story hadimproved since I had had to read it in high school. Athena had a sense of humor! Who knew?

Homer knew. He was that guy, sitting around the fire, trying to keep people awake long enough to pitch a few drachmas into his bowl. Comedy and sex, The Odyssey has plenty of both, and that’s what kept people up at night. Still do.

So if stories are necessary, if Homer proved it three thousand years ago andMichael Connelly, Diana Gabaldon and Stephen King are still proving it today, it followsthat people will seek out stories wherever they can find them. On the bookshelves of local libraries, on the shelves at indie bookstores, at used bookstores, at bookfinder.com, yes, at Barnes & Noble, and on e-readers, studies and statistics sayagain and again that people are reading more than ever before.
Ah. E-books. You knew I was headed there.

Two years ago I had sixteen books out of print. This year? None. And once all the books were again available, this time on Kindle and Nook and iBooks and Kobo, you know what happened? Everybody bought them, and at a time when print sales werecdropping like Wile E. Coyote over a cliff the e-book sales drove the sales of my next print book onto the extended NYT bestseller list. My titles were available for the first time in the UK, and everybody bought them there, too. A UK publisher took note and is now bringing the others out there in e and in print. I’m now a bestseller in Italy, and last I heard I’m about to be published in France.

It’s a whole new world, folks. Writers have never had choices like these. You can write, design and publish your own books direct to Kindle, like John Locke or Amanda Hocking. Like Hocking you can then abandon self-publication for a four-book contractwith my publisher for $2 million. (They never offered me that kind of money.)

You can hire an intermediary to do the heavy lifting for you, like I do, wheresomebody else handles the design and the uploading and collects all that lovely lucre for you. You have to pay them a percentage, but you have that much more time to write. Like I said, choices.

Or you can go the traditional route, and sign on with a print publisher. Some things traditional publishers still do better than anyone, produce actual books, tour authors, get heard above the noise. If you’re lucky you get a great editor who loves yourstuff and makes sure it gets good covers and good promotion. I’ve been that lucky, and it’s a nice place to be.

But it follows that if so many authors are publishing in so many different venues, it must be worth our while. Which means readers are still coming to us for stories, still curling up next to us by the fire. Barnes & Noble may not survive, but the need, thehunger for good stories always will, and readers will seek them out. All we have to do iswrite them and make them available.
Stop reading those listserves and get back to work.


I know we have quite a few aspiring and novice writers on our back blog. What do you think about the future of publishing? Are you shooting for traditional publication, or are you considering D-I-Y? And for you readers, does it make a difference how the book gets into your hands? Hop onto the comments and join the discussion.

Dana Stabenow's twentieth Kate Shugak novel, Bad Blood, will be out on February 26. You can read excerpts if it, and her other books, at her website. You can friend Dana on Facebook, follow her on Twitter as @DanaStabenowswap book recommendations at Goodreads, and check out her voluminous photo stream at Flickr. Want more? Dana also blogs delicious recipes for the solo cook at Feast For One.

Categories: Posts by Writers

The Bosnia Autism Project

ASHAsphere - Tue, 02/12/2013 - 08:00

Over the years, Speech Pathology Group: Children’s Services International (SPG: CSI) and the government of Bosnia-Herzegovina have combined their efforts to establish and implement a ground-breaking program, The Bosnia Autism Project. Our mission has been to “teach the teachers” and provide sustainable aid to children with communication impairments.  Lisa Cameron has recently extended the SPG: CSI efforts to the Himalayan country of Bhutan, and Marci VonBroembsen remains active in South Africa. SPG: CSI is truly expanding and going international!

From 2009-2012, SPG: CSI sent specialized teams of professional volunteers to provide evidence-based assessment and treatment education to professionals, university students and parents in Bosnia- Herzegovina. This past summer, SPG:CSI  worked with a four-year old who was hidden in his house because his family was ashamed of his disability. We met a 12-year-old who had never been to school and whose parents would lock him in his empty “bedroom” (merely a concrete room and a bucket) because he was nonverbal and had become so aggressive that they did not know how to control his behaviors.

Because of the tireless efforts from professionals in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and SPG: CSI’s dedication, together we have achieved amazing results! We are ecstatic to tell you that in October 2012 both our four-year old and the 12-year old started attending school and are doing well. For the first time students with autism and other disabilities are receiving treatment, a home-based intervention program has been established, parents are being educated, and the numbers of treatment centers continue to grow. But our mission is far from complete.

We are now in phase three of the Bosnia Autism Project, which is providing advanced training to the community leaders and medical and educational specialists.  In an effort to maximize our efforts, we have invited seven key professionals and medical specialists to train with us in California for three weeks in the summer of 2013. These trail-blazing pioneers will receive advanced training in communication assessment and treatment strategies for children of all ages and stages, and go back to Bosnia to train other professional peers, leading them through a professional transformation.

For those of you who have wanted to participate with the non-profit but were unsure how, we invite you to get involved. Now is the time—and you don’t have to make the trek overseas!

  1. Visit our website and learn more about the Bosnia Autism Project.  Any and all help is welcomed, without long-term commitments.  Contact us at info@spgcsi.org or spg.csi@gmail.com if you have any questions or want to get involved.
  2. Friend us on facebook at  to follow the most up to date information, see pics and follow the progress of our Bosnian colleagues.
  3. Join us at California Speech Hearing Association Convention for a 90-minute informational seminar (Thursday, March 8th) and Happy Hour at the Hyatt Long Beach on Friday March 9th.  Check out our website for more information.

Larisa Petersen, MS, CCC-SLP is in her third year as a Speech-Language Pathologist.  Currently, she works for The Speech Language Pathology Group in Walnut Creek, California.  She provides speech-language services to students in Kindergarten through sixth grade.  She updates the blog for The Bosnia Autism Project and you can visit her at http://spgcsi.wordpress.com.  Also written by Anna Taggart, Leah Huang, and Raquel Narain.

Categories: Therapy

EXTRA ETHER: A Good Day for the (R)evolution

Jane Friedman - Tue, 02/12/2013 - 06:00

I’ve hugged my technologist extremely closely and well.

Kate Pullinger

“Digital fiction” author Kate Pullinger of London, near the end of the day, embraced the subtle, central heart of Tuesday’s inaugural Author (R)evolution Day program at the O’Reilly Tools of Change Conference (TOC) installed this week at the Marriott on Broadway.

In almost every element of the contemporary writer’s condition, there are options, so many options, too many options. But tech’s tough-lovely drive is behind them. This choice-choked scenario that energizes some writers but paralyzes many more is derived from the digital dynamic sweeping the creative core of an exhausted industry.

The Author (R)evolution Day room was packed at many points during the day, attendees of the day’s adjacent  TOC workshops dropping by to see some of the program.

It’s apt, then, that tech- TOC has been the producing body to step up to a challenge I issued on the Ether last year. I wanted to see the authors in, basically—I wanted one or more of our major-conference producing bodies to provide an industry-class event in which the creative corps (and core) of this business could hear from top-level practitioners, observers, analysts, with a view to pounding out a serious way forward.

I saw publishers, CEOs, CTOs, CIOs, COOs mixing with innovators, startup chieftains, researchers, analysts…and no authors, no one who creates the fundamental element of publishing for all the rest, the stories.

After Tuesday’s event, I want to say thank you to Joe Wikert, Kat Meyer, their co-chair Kristen McLean — and to Tim O’Reilly, himself, who came to “#ARDay,” sat with us, watched and listened. O’Reilly is an organization that has stopped to turn and look at a pressing issue so richly associated with the upheaval and promise of a new publishing landscape. They’ve not only looked at it, but they’ve addressed it with a first outing that was, as promised, no tips-’n'-tricks writers’ confab of the usual needlepoint-lessons variety.

Here are several important ways in which Author (R)evolution Day has arrived as an authors’ conference for entrepreneurial creative professionals:

  • It leverages the new centricity of authorial energy in the business. Joe Wikert, in his opening remarks Tuesday: “The pendulum of power over the years has shifted to authors.”
  • “Entrepreneurial” is the key, not self- or traditional publishing. The program accommodates the breadth of response we now must welcome: Kristen McLean made the point during the  morning session that Author (R)evolution Day (ARD) is agnostic on the question of self-publishing vs. traditional for authors. She noted recent statistics that indicate potential success for what we’ve called “hybrids” for some time now, writers who both self- and traditionally publish. And she anchored the ARD initiative firmly in the realm of what’s “entrepreneurial.” ARD is developed to address entrepreneurial authors and their needs.
  • Amazon is in the room. I was particularly glad to see Libby Johnson McKee, Amazon’s North American Director for Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and CreateSpace. I’ve seen McKee in writer’s conference settings before. (Seattle’s leadership is engaged in the writing community, something I can’t honestly say about many other major publishers’ executives. Might be something to learn there.) We’ve already seen conferences this year with no Amazon presence. Nothing could be a bigger mistake. The largest player needs to be among us, know us, and let us know it. And in the warm, gracious humor of someone like McKee, a formidable edifice starts to look human in a hurry.

Meyer asked us at day’s end to help pinpoint areas in which we’d learned things. There were easily identifiable themes resonating all day in various sessions.

  • Conversation and engagement, reader-to-writer and writer-to-reader
  • Advocacy
  • Community
  • Strategy
  • Discoverability
  • Distribution
  • Self-direction

Authors, including Pullinger, Cory Doctorow, Mark Jeffrey, Scott Andrew James, and Amanda Havard of Immersedition, were on hand, as were writing counselors and program leaders including Eve Bridburg of Grub Street, who outlined the “logic model” she’s using with career-building authors in Boston.

Literary agent Jason Allen Ashlock—whose Movable Type Management has created the new Rogue Reader author collective—told the room with a wry smile that an author working alone in the business today may not be adept at what’s needed, “no matter how many times you’ve read Guy Kawasaki’s book.”  The agent as a rapidly evolving “radical advocate,” he said, is the only such support equipped to stay with authors for the long term of the changes ahead.

For the first time in my conference-coverage experience, a session on metadata for authors was included, with one of the country’s leaders in the field of identifiers, Laura Dawson of Bowker. One study, she said, has shown that simply adding a book image could increase reader interest in a book by more than 260 percent. The importance of good data, and of monitoring your data, she explained, cannot be overstated.

“Without this information, you’re leaving readers with a lot of questions,” Dawson said. “Or no questions, which is worse.”

Note: Bowker has announced a new partnership with with New York’s Data Conversion Laboratory (DCL) to form the new Bowker eBook Conversion Service for authors. I have a story for it at Publishing PerspectivesBowker Intro’s 1-Stop ISBN Ebook Conversion Service.

From marketing and discovery discussions with Author Day co-sponsor (thank you) Publishers Weekly’s Cevin Bryarman and Kobo’s Mark Lefevbre to community and audience-creation debate with Wattpad’s Allen Lau and distribution points from Net Minds’ Tim Sanders, the tone and pitch of the day was rooted in responsibility—the author’s responsibility to educate him- and herself, to learn to flex long-unused business muscles by understanding the business and tackling deficiencies.

| | |

Last year, I left Digital Book World (DBW) and TOC frustrated because authors were all but invisible in these great annual high-end state-of-publishing productions. It felt scandalous to me that as a journalist I could hear from publishing executives, analysts, commentators speaking to each other…as if the authors weren’t on the need-to-know list about a market smoky with confusion and wholly dependent on the creative essential produced by the absent authors.

This year, as TOC “proper” goes forward Wednesday and Thursday, the picture has changed, thanks to O’Reilly Media’s first-class response to that appeal, complete with a daylong free video stream of the events provided for authors who couldn’t be with us.

Thanks to TOC’s Shirley Bailes, I can tell you that the presentation slides made available by ARD speakers are being posted on this page, and many are available now, including those I put together for my onstage interview with Bridburg.

You see what I mean about TOC being a class act.

The bar hasn’t been raised, it’s been set, and for the first time. TOC’s program is singular in its scope and fully up to the crisp standard of the production capability we know as its trademark in international conference events in publishing.

This Author (R)evolution was a good Day for writers. I look forward to many more.


Images: Porter Anderson

The post EXTRA ETHER: A Good Day for the (R)evolution appeared first on Jane Friedman.

Categories: Posts by Writers

Getting into the Game: a guest blog by Sara J. Henry

Jungle Red Writers - Tue, 02/12/2013 - 02:30

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING:  It won't come as a surprise to anyone who reads my writing to find out I;m always on the look-out for a good book set in the Adirondacks. Which is how I stumbled across Sara J. Henry. I had read some excellent reviews of her debut novel, Learning to Swim, and upon realizing it took place in the Adirondacks, I snatched it up. 

Reader, I loved it. I wasn't the only one, either; Learning to Swim was nominated for the Barry and Macavity awards and won the Anthony, Agatha and Mary Higgins Clark awards. Hoping to ride on her coattails, I asked if I could blurb the sequel, A Cold and Lonely Place. (When it, too, picks up a bunch of award nominations, I figure Sara will be good to stand me a few drinks.)

Sara's here today to answer the one question I didn't get a chance to ask her when we met at Bouchercon: how does a nice girl from Tennessee wind up writing about the North Country?

It took exactly twelve weeks to decide I wanted to make a living writing – the twelve weeks I spent working as a soil scientist in Gainesville, Florida. I was twenty, with a boss who told me every Friday, “Only thirty-five years to retirement.” Maybe that was his way of hinting that this was not the career for me (kids, the career that seems fun in college may not be anything close to fun when you’re doing it forty hours a week, in a hot Florida town where the clay layer doesn’t kick in until eighty inches, which is how deep you have to dig to map soils.)
Time for a new plan.
I got a column in the local paper, and started journalism graduate school. After a series of part-time newspaper jobs, I turned to the ads in the back of Editor & Publisher. One week I applied for jobs as farm editor, religion editor, and sports editor – all of which I was equally unqualified for.
One editor responded, from a tiny newspaper in a tiny town in the Adirondacks in upstate New York. I arrived for my interview in what seemed the dead of winter, stepping off the small plane at a tiny airport into a world that was white as far as the eye could see. It was cold in a way I’d never experienced.
They offered me the job as sports editor.
I took it.
Never mind that this was an area where sports were big – with three high schools, two community colleges, softball teams, three-day sled dog races, canoe races, Winter Carnival competitions, rugby tournaments. With the Olympic Center nearby, there was luge, bobsled, biathlon, ski jumping, horse show competition, boxing, triathlon. And more.
It was my job to cover them all.
Never mind that my sports experience was limited to competing in bicycle and running races, and writing a string of sports features. I’d been to exactly one college football game.
I worked the way you can work only when you’re in your twenties and have already flubbed one career and don’t want to flub another. I bought a book that detailed the rules of various sports. I went from event to event, shooting hockey from the penalty box, basketball from under the hoop, football from the sidelines. With this many sports to cover, understanding the nuances of game play was neither possible nor necessary. I took a lot of photos, got quotes from coaches, and spelled names right. I worked nearly around the clock, coming in at 3 am on Monday morning to write features and develop film and lay out my pages. Nearing deadline, the press room guys would stare at me through the window in the door while I hustled through my last page. .Winters were brutal. Bit by bit I assembled an essential wardrobe – wool-lined Sorel boots, long johns, insulated gloves, head warmer, wool hat, thick coat. I learned to carry cardboard to stand on at outside events for insulation. I kept a sleeping bag in the car in case I got stranded. I put a lot of miles on my car and shot a lot of film. I discovered coffee. I ate on the run. I was thinner than I’d ever been.
I loved it.
Toward the end of my second year someone sent one of my bobsled articles to a magazine that reprinted it and sent me a check that was more than I earned in a week. Light dawned. I couldn’t keep up this pace and didn’t want to cut corners, so not too much later I resigned to write freelance write. Then after a few years, I went off to other places, to work at magazines, at other papers, as a book editor.
But I never forgot this place I loved, and the people who made me feel I belonged for the first time in my life.
So when I sat down to write a novel, years later, this was where it had to be set.

Location, location, location. It's as important for a novel as it is for real estate. What are your stand-out settings in fiction, dear Readers? What sort of settings do you love to read about? And has a new place ever made itself home in your own life? One lucky commenter will win a copy of A Cold and Lonely Place!
Sara’s first novel, Learning to Swim, won the Anthony and Agatha awards for best first novel and the Mary Higgins Clark award. Its sequel is A Cold and Lonely Place(Crown, Feb. 5, 2013), which Howard Frank Mosher describes as “a character-driven thriller set in one of the coldest and loneliest places in the United States: the Adirondack Mountains in mid-winter.” (Publishers Weekly refers to “Henry's bone-deep sense of this terribly beautiful place,” and Booklist says the book “perfectly conjures the lure of living in a small and beautiful mountain town during a bitterly cold winter.” Which makes the author very happy.)

You can read excerpts of Sara's books at her website, friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter as @SaraJHenry. She blogs at Sara in Vermont.

Categories: Posts by Writers

I Survived Snowmageddon (Part XVI)

Jungle Red Writers - Mon, 02/11/2013 - 02:30

Snow piling up against Julia's barn door Saturday.JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING:  We East Coast Red are digging out of the remains of the Blizzard of '13 (no, I'm not going to call it by the weather channel's made-up name. Naming every snow storm in the northeast is like naming every tornado in Oklahoma - you'll be on Zelda Zachery Zanderbergen before the season is over.)

This was a well-hyped storm that lived up to it's publicity, especially in Massachusetts and Connecticut. It got me thinking about how my family deals with major weather events. Living as we do in the Maine countryside, we're used to both heavy winter weather and power outages. We always have batteries, several jugs of water, and boxes of emergency candles and safety holders.

RJ Julia Booksellers in Madison, CT.Before the storm began, we loaded the log cradle with enough wood for three days burning, topped off the gas in the car, and made a couple big pots of soup and stew, food that is easily reheated atop one of the woodstoves. I got the dirty clothes washed and hung up and Ross ran the dishwasher, against the possibility that we wouldn't be able to for the next few days. We plugged in the phones and the laptops, and got out some board games. When you're well-prepared, there's a sense of fun and adventure in a storm (providing you're not dealing with anything genuinely dangerous, such as flooding or damage to your home.) It's kind of like camping, with furniture.

How did the rest of you East Coast Reds fare during the storm? Do you have a standard prep routine? And for Rhys and Debs, what, if any, weather events do you need to worry about in California and Texas?

LUCY BURDETTE: Oh you Mainers are so tough! CT really got hammered. The snow is so heavy in my hometown that the plows can't lift it. They've called in heavy construction equipment to try to clear the streets.

But I wasn't there. It's a little bit surreal to be in sunny Key West, watching the storm unfold on TV. I wanted to be there for about half an hour...I'll tell you one thing though, we are getting a generator when we get back north. Too many storms coming through our neck of the woods to leave it up to candles and flashlights.

Hallie's husband on snow clearing duty.HALLIE EPHRON: I would LOVE to try snowshoeing - sounds like great fun, Ro.

We gassed up, shopped for basics, charged everything, and hoped for the best -- which is what we got. SO MUCH SNOW! Though not as much as Lucy got -- seems like this is the third storm that's drawn a bullseye on the Connecticut coast.

But we're dug out (picture shows our neighbor starting to dig out) and didn't lose power. In the neighboring town -- which is literally across the street -- virtually everyone lost power and many are still down. The sheer amount of snow is pretty incredible. Tomorrow's forecast: rain. So now we get to worry about ice dams and leaky roofs.

We'll hope this doesn't happen to Rhys.
RHYS BOWEN: It's funny but the temperature in Arizona, where we spend our winters these days, has dipped into the fifties and we're complaining that we're freezing. Sorry, you tough North-Easterners. We're wimps. And one good thing about Arizona is no weather events. It gets up to 120 degrees in summer when we're not there. There are occasional dust storms which are weird. But mainly in winter it's sun, an occasional passing cloud or cold night.

In Marin County California where we have lived for 40 years now we get torrential rain in the winters--flooded roads, mud slides and power outages all possible (which is why we escape these days). Summers are lovely. We are out of the fog belt. But I suppose one can't quite ignore a little thing called Earthquakes. We've experienced three since I moved there, but no damage to us. We're all ostrichs when it comes to The Big One.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  Well, as a reporter, you know the deal. I was out in it, two days, and  (like most of us at Channel 7) stayed over at a hotel so I could come in to work  the early shift on Saturday.  I walked the silent and deserted Logan Airport, interviewed the last of the arrivals, watched the snow removal machines. Drove (with my photographer and a 4-wheel drive)) to northern Massachusetts on empty highways, amazing to zoom (is) up I-93 without another car in sight. white white white, and battering snow. At one point, I tried to open my car door, and the wind was so strong I couldn't do it. I walked in slush in flooded Salisbury, watching the raging ocean and saw the massive beach erosion, splatted in the thigh-high snow and had to be yanked to my feet by the homeowner I was interviewing.

(Not Hank. WHDH wouldn't leave her standing out in the snow this long.)

The key to storm coverage: bring almonds and celery and water, use whatever bathroom is available whenever you can, and keep your cell phone charged.
VERY happy to be home.  Very grateful for my hot shower.

Funny--my new book THE WRONG GIRL takes place in the dead of winter..and Jane has to battle the snow to get her story!

Remind us again why people live here, Deb.DEBORAH CROMBIE: North Texas is major tornado country. Do you remember in Twister when the tornado chasers are driving along those country roads that are supposed to be in Oklahoma? If you look closely at the highway signs, many of the scenes were shot in north Texas. In fact, even though it's early for severe weather, we had a big front move through last night. No tornadoes, thank goodness, but it was bad enough that I spent the night on the mattress on the bathroom floor with the storm-phobic dog...
We can have snow and ice in the winter (our measly--by New England standards--six inches over Christmas brought everything to a standstill) and blisteringly hot summers. We are always prepped for tornadoes with bottled water, easy to heat up food, flashlights, and emergency evac kits. In really bad storms I huddle in the little downstairs bathroom (center of house, no windows) with both dogs, flashlight, charged cell phone, and walkie-talkie. Gee, can't wait till spring...)

JULIA:  How about you, dear readers? Tell us your storm stories! Have you dug out? Do you have power? Or are you someplace warm, laughing sympathetically at the rest of us?
Categories: Posts by Writers

Walking Abbey or Downton Dead?

Jungle Red Writers - Sat, 02/09/2013 - 23:30

ROSEMARY HARRIS: Is it possible that the same woman who's now seen Downton Abbey - all three seasons - umpteen times (yes, I did watch the dvds so I know how this season ends) and is seriously considering orchestrating a trip to Mozambique through London next September so she can watch the two hour premier of Season Four (shooting this month) when it airs in the UK is also chomping at the bit to see The Walking Dead tonight?? You betcha.

I know - no hats, no gloves (some of the characters don't have hands or heads, much less vintage accessories.) No spectacular home - unless you count the bombed-out prison with the razorwire fence that keeps out the zombies. But there you have it.  Shocking admission.Tonight I'll be watching Rick and the gang instead of Lady Mary and company.

If anyone had told me two years ago that I'd be watching a zombie show I'd have said that was about as likely as my trying out for the Yankees. But it's not really a zombie show. There's a small amount of survivalism but it's mostly about people, society. How society might reconstruct itself if all the established rules and systems were destroyed. Who would lead or follow? What skills would reveal themselves to be valuable? (Hint: a former pizza delivery man with knowledge of all the city's backstreets proves to be a handy fellow to have around.)

Okay let's talk favorites...hopefully we have some Walking Dead fans out there. Who's your favorite character? These days mine's Darryl Dixon played by actor Norman Reedus, the same actor who was one of the Boondock Saints. Another movie least likely to be beloved by Downton Addicts. Who's your favorite survivor?

And for the Downton fans - we know everyone loves the Dowager Countess so let's leave her out of the mix. Of the other characters on Downton Abbey, which are your faves? These days I'm loving Daisy, played by Sophie McSchera. And poor Tom (Alan Leech.) Looks good in a tux AND he can fix cars. I feel sure I could comfort him in his loss.

What about you?? Who will you be cheering for tonight?
Categories: Posts by Writers


Jungle Red Writers - Fri, 02/08/2013 - 23:30


ROSEMARY HARRIS: I cannot tell a lie, I saw this heading on another blog. The content is not the same (and we all know you can't copyright a title) but props to Jenny From The Blog for giving me the idea.
Not having kids, this isn't about repeating mom phrases like - "You'll shoot your eye out" or "your face will freeze like that." In our home the most popular one had to do with the Brooklyn Bridge. But I can remember looking around our Brooklyn apartment and thinking "why does she need all this STUFF??"
Lo and behold, I find myself collecting lots of the same stuff my mother collected. China. Linens. More vases, gloves and scarves than anyone really needs.
I bake the same holiday treats - struffoli - that she did.
And I have an embarassing fondness for things with my name on them "It's a pot with the word Rosemary on it...I should buy it!" Somewhere Mom is smiling and saying "I told you so."
So Reds - we know all of our mothers were wonderful, this is not about work ethic, joie de vivre or smarts - have you picked up any goofy, silly, surprising habits or traits from your mothers?

HALLIE EPHRON: My mother loved words -- she'd recite poetry after dinner (Edward Arlington Robinson "Miniver Cheevy, child of scorn..." and Vachel Lindsay "Then I saw the Congo, creeping through the black..." and Edna Millay "My candle burns at both ends, it will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends - it gives a lovely light...). Words were dessert.
She was also bossy and opinionated and loved food (sound familiar?) She didn't cook, clean, or collect, and she hated to shop unless it was at a used bookstore. She had a dark side, too, all which I write about in a piece called "Growing Up Ephron" that's runs in the March issue of "O" Magazine -- on the shelf 2/12!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: And a fabulous piece it is, Hallie!
My mom--stylish, artistic, opinionated. No cleaning, no cooking--well, when we were kids, I guess, but not later. Hmmm. She had SO MANY CLOTHES. Hmmm. And oh, she would sing snippets of songs when she heard part of the lyrics. "Why look so awfully gloomy?.." Now, sadly, I do, too. 

She was incredibly critical. I mean--incredibly.
HANK (a few years ago) Mom! I won another Emmy!
MOM (pauses) Oh, honey, do you still care about that stuff?
I'm pretty critical, too...but I try to keep quiet about it.
But she used to talk to the checkout people at the grocery, which embarrassed the heck out of me. Now I do it, too. And she'd just comment to strangers who are shopping--"oh, that looks terrific." I DIED when she did it. Now, I do too--and can't believe someone wouldn't be fascinated by my opinion.
Here's her wedding photo, circa 1948.
Am I my mother? Oh, yes, indeedy. Sometimes I look in the mirror and flinch in surprise.

RHYS BOWEN: Hank, did we have the same mother? Mine was a school principal and tough and unsympathetic.
Me: I didn't get that part in the school play that I wanted.
Mother: What a stupid thing to care about. As if a play matters.
It did to me...
So I made a supreme effort always to be supportive to my kids when it came to making teams, being asked to dances etc because they did matter.
So I would have thought that I was nothing like my mom. And yet... yikes, I'm starting to look like her. And she loved to shop and had hundreds of purses and I'm starting to gravitate to the purses in Macy's.
Strangely enough when she retired and got old we became great friends and laughed at the same things. And she talked to her dog in baby talk, something she never did to me. And I find myself using exactly the same words to talk to my daughter's dog.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: My mom was a fusser and a "fixer." Always worrying about everyone's diets and health. I say "was" because although she will be 92 on Monday, the 11th, she's suffered from Alzheimer's for a good few years now. So every time I worry that my daughter is too thin or that my hubby eats too much junk food when I'm out of town, I pinch myself. Stop that!
And oh, the lists! She wrote everything down, notes and lists constantly on every scrap of paper. Now, of course, I understand why. And I'm doing it, too. My to-do list, my grocery list... I can't function without them. Very scary.
The photo is from Thanksgiving, 2010, when she was a little more alert than she is now. The three generations; mother, daughter, granddaughter.

LUCY BURDETTE: My mother has been gone longer than I knew her--that's kind of weird. She had four of us kids and a job teaching grade school. So when she got home, she'd retreat to her bedroom with a snack and a book to get some space. I definitely got the "need for space" gene too. And there's no better place to get it than bed.
She was absolutely pet mad and every one of us kids picked that trait up too. Like her, we haul our pets around the country because we can't bear to be without them. Of course Tonka comes to Key West, but now the cat has been added to the travel team, much to John's dismay.
I may have already told you this, but her famous sex education talk with me went like this: "Some day you'll feel about a man the way you do about the cat."
John is still waiting.
By the way, Hayley Snow's mother is named Janet, just like mine.
ROSEMARY: Sex education...that's a whole other blog post! On that note...
Categories: Posts by Writers

Meet Susan Froetschel, author of Fear of Beauty

Jungle Red Writers - Thu, 02/07/2013 - 23:30
ROSEMARY HARRIS: Today at Jungle Red we welcome Susan Froetschel, the author of Fear of Beauty, a compelling novel about reading and secrets...for some, a matter of life and death.
  SF:Secrets, rattling the souls of characters, are the heart of mysteries. I wondered if I could write mysteries as soon as I started reading Nancy Drew, but kept this goal a secret. Obsessed with reading, I loved entering worlds nothing like my own. I was wary of any who suggested this obsession might be odd – whether it was the relatives who worried about my eyes and social life or the children who teased me as a bookworm. Wise teachers often advise, Worry about the quiet ones, and that applied to my childhood. No need for detail here, just take my word for it. I grew up headstrong and competitive – a radical reader on the hunt for the best ideas in living.  

So like most writers, I regard illiteracy as a terrifying trap. The definitions of illiteracy are many. The CIA World Factbook tracks literacy rates, and the US ranks high. Yet other assessments suggest that at least one out of six Americans, maybe more, has minimal literacy. Whether they can read only a little or not at all, many adults devote considerable effort into hiding this deficit.                                                                   
At first, strong readers might shrug, feeling relief it’s not their child. But it’s a mistake to think we can glide through modern life unaffected by others’ struggles with literacy. Consider the manufacturing employee who can’t read warnings on labels, mixing the wrong chemicals and releasing a gas that injures co-workers or home health aides earning minimum wage who can’t follow directions on medication packages or equipment. Too many legislators and citizens don’t read bills before the votes are cast. And then there was the subprime mortgage debacle, with thousands of homebuyers trusting loan officers on unrealistic and unaffordable terms, signing toxic contracts that eventually threatened the global economy.
No agency keeps tabs on mistakes linked to illiteracy, yet one estimate suggests the problem costs the US economy about $225 billion per year. And literacy is linked to security:  The US military has promoted literacy since the Revolutionary War, when General George Washington directed military chaplains to teach soldiers reading and other basic skills. Reading and writing, early steps to seducing the hearts and minds of others through the arts, are tools of power, suggests Robert Greene in The 48 Laws of Power, a book purchased by my son before he attended high school and since abandoned to my basement bookshelves. Those who belittle education and reading would deny others power.
Some illiterate adults have grown up in families and communities that devalue and resent education, trapping generation after generation. Some students were bullied into rejecting reading, and others do the bullying themselves. Some grow up feeling alone and stupid only to discover a learning disability long after school years have ended. Others know that seeking help as an adult takes courage and fiercely rally their children and grandchildren to read and avoid a humiliation that’s so often a motivation for violence.  
Not long after reading The Color Purple by Alice Walker, I responded to a local literacy organization’s call for volunteers. Dozens of adults were waiting for individual tutors in the small town, and the program was unusual in that volunteers didn’t need special credentials. Instead, we were encouraged to create a safe starting point for raising awareness and encouraging clients to enter more formal literacy classes and GED programs.  In a small town, these illiterate adults refused to join others in a classroom and divulge their secrets. Gossip was rampant, and as a reporter for the daily newspaper, I was a major purveyor.  The director emphasized confidentiality.
My first student, a laborer at a seafood plant, refused to meet anywhere but his kitchen and only when his family wasn’t at home. My second student was a prominent businessman. He agreed to meet in the public library after developing an elaborate story about hiring me for a writing project. These men were ashamed, skilled at dodging any scenario or questions about anything associated with the written word.
Those who can’t share our passion for reading are vulnerable, accustomed to a life of heartbreak and confusion. Poverty, lay-off notices, foreclosures, divorce, illness or arrests often derail plans for adult learners. The program’s director had many resources, but encouraged us to build trust and develop strategies for clients to pursue, preparing them if our meetings were to end abruptly.
Every life is a story, and yet, suggested Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The most wonderful inspirations die with their subject if he has no hand to paint them to the senses.” Reading and writing help us craft better lives. Catching up with reading as an adult is grueling and time-consuming. Many spend their lives hiding desires and talent or risk teasing or bullying – another side to this story. Secrets about an activity taken for granted by so many – reading – can be a matter of life and death in other parts of the world and in some communities of the United States.
So let me ask, fellow readers, has there been a time when you felt compelled to keep your own reading a secret?
 ROSEMARY:  Susan's novel, Fear of Beauty (which i was lucky enough to get an advance copy of!) is a story of a woman in rural Afghanistan desperate to learn how to read after her son’s battered body is found at the base of a nearby cliff on the day he was supposed to leave for school. Most villagers blame an accidental fall. Others wonder if US troops and aid workers at a nearby outpost should be blamed. Defying all odds and taking advantage of war’s chaos, Sofi finds a teacher and discovers the truth behind her son’s death and extremists’ real purpose in her village. And JR readers, Susan and her publisher, Prometheus Books, are giving away a copy of Fear of Beauty to one lucky commenter today. Stop by and say hello!
Susan Froetschel taught writing at Yale University and magazine writing and literacy journalism at Southern Connecticut State University. She’s now consulting editor for YaleGlobal, an online magazine that explores the global connections of all types. Fear of Beauty is a culmination of years of volunteering in reading programs and imagining growing up in a community without books.
Categories: Posts by Writers

Blogging is to Talking, as APA Style is to ?

ASHAsphere - Thu, 02/07/2013 - 08:00

(photo credit)

I’ve found a danger to blogging a lot—someone might like what I’ve chatted about casually and then want me to turn it into an APA style manuscript.  Yep!  That’s happened!  My little ramblings about Google forms have been converted to a formal paper, and are about ready to be submitted electronically to the scholarly folds of ASHA for a peer review and heavy edit.

I’ve learned quite a bit from this:

1.  What is APA style?  The last time I wrote a research paper, I used a typewriter—it was at least an electric typewriter. (Hey, I’m not that old!)  Regardless, writing a paper and submitting it so it looks similar to what I see in my professional journals is a bit of a learning curve.  Fonts didn’t really exist in my world back then.   I’ve never written an ‘abstract’ or worried about including ‘table titles’ or website references.  I’ve spent more than a few hours over the holidays learning about fonts, double spacing, and citations.  (I feel I’m a more than competent speech pathologist—but my job descriptions since graduation in 1984 haven’t really included this.)

2.  What is a SIG (otherwise known as Special Interest Group) in the ASHA world?   I’ve never fronted the money but apparently each SIG has scholarly publications that the members (who pay $35 a year) can read and get CEUs.   I’m hopefully going to be published in one of the SIG publications, although I may not be able to read my own published article since I’m not yet  a member of the SIG.   Maybe I’m not as poor as I think I am.  Perhaps, I’ll turn over a new leaf now, and join a SIG—the one focusing on school-based issues now has me intrigued!   I’ll keep you posted about this.

3.  What is peer review?  I actually already knew about this, but it’s a bit intimidating to submit something I’ve written to be edited and reviewed by people I don’t know.  Right now, I’m using my 22-year-old daughter as my editor, but we think alike and readily critique each other all time about lots of things.  The part about complete strangers reviewing my paper (that I don’t know how to write) is daunting to even consider.  I’m sure that the reality is there will only be a couple of people on a computer that will edit my masterpiece, but my fantasy is that a large group will be earnestly talking about what I wrote. Ha Ha!

So, writing a formal paper is outside of my comfort zone.  Why did I agree to this?  Possibly, I was flattered that anyone even asked.  Possibly, I never say “no” to anything. I need a ready-made script or a social story in this area.

I hope all of you are having a good start to the year! What’s done is done—I said “yes” and this has been great, albeit painful practice, and I’m sure that I’ll have a bit more editing to do.  I’ll let you know how this challenge turns out.

This post is based on a post that originally appeared at Chapel Hill Snippets.

Ruth Morgan is a speech-language pathologist who works for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools at Ephesus Elementary School. She loves her job and enjoys writing about innovative ways to use the iPad in therapy, gluten-free cooking, and geocaching adventures. Visit her blog at:

Categories: Therapy