Saturday, January 29, 2011

The MARK of success

I know I haven't been around on the blog much lately but I hope y'all will forgive me :-) I've been super busy. If you don't follow the YAtopia blog (which you totally should) I had a post up on Tuesday trying to help out with common mistakes in writing. If nothing else, check it out for the funny pictures!

Now the real reason for this post is the recent announcement that Leigh Fallon's (who is gorgeous, funny and shares the best posting day on YAtopia with me) THE CARRIER OF THE MARK will be published by HarperCollins in Fall of this year! She wrote about it on her blog here and on the YAtopia blog (with all kinds of links!). NOW, checkout this gorgeous beautiful cover:

Isn't that awesome?? I mean, who even cares what the book is about? ;-)

Why This is Big News

If you click through to the YAtopia blog link you'll see A LOT of news and media coverage that you normally don't see just because someone (who's not a celebrity) sold a book. That's because of how it happened. For those of you who aren't familiar with inkpop, it's a website where members post their novels and the users vote for their favorites. HarperCollins editors then take a look at the top 5 every month.

With the book industry in such a future-fearing state right now, everybody's looking for changes, ways to "save publishing" (I hate that phrase, btw). inkpop was one of those things that promised a change, but people were really skeptical about. Leigh's is the first book from inkpop to be sold!

So now people are taking a closer look at inkpop's system. The website basically has writers and readers reading the slush with editors only seeing the best. And it - theoretically - bypasses agents. The announcement of Leigh's sale is enough to make anyone in the industry snap to attention.

Will this be the future of querying and publishing? Nobody knows. But, thanks to Leigh, it's now a contender.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

TED videos out the wazoo

Though I haven't been posting lately, I've been watching lots of TED videos and I wanted to share some of them with you.

The first is Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, talking about "Why we have too few women leaders." If you're a woman who cares about moving up in your career, I think you'll find this interesting.

The second video is 11-year-old Birke Baehr talking about "What's wrong with our food system." Though what he says probably isn't anything you haven't heard before, the fact that someone so young came to these conclusions and is so concerned about it speaks even louder than what he says.

The next video is philosopher Denis Dutton discussing "A Darwinian theory of beauty." He says that beauty is a core part of human nature with deep evolutionary origins. In addition to a few interesting insights, his presentation itself is entertaining. "We find beauty in something done well."

After that, I watched Heribert Watzke talk about "The brain in your gut." There is a network of 100 million functioning neurons in your intestines and Watzke describes this as an autonomous hidden brain about the size of a cat's brain. He says "the gut is connected to our emotional limbic system" and discusses how it has changed over time, how the invention of cooking food has affected everything about humans.

Most recently, I watched the video that has made me think the most since I started TED month: Brene Brown and "The power of vulnerability." She studies human connection and, in this video, shares the realization that caused her to have a "breakdown" or, as her therapist calls it, a "spiritual awakening."

She says that "In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen." She separated the people she studied in to two groups: Those who have a sense of worthiness and those who don't. Those who do, have a strong sense of love and belonging and (here's the important part) the only difference between those who do and those who don't is that "people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they're worthy of love and belonging." They have the courage to be imperfect and fully embrace vulnerability, believing it's fundamental.

Brown says that although "we live in a vulnerable world," "we numb vulnerability" and that "you can't selectively numb emotions" without numbing the others. As a result, "we make the uncertain certain." She then goes on to discuss the effect this has on politics and religion - the "you're wrong, I'm right" attitude permeating both of these subjects today. I thought this was a fascinating discussion and I hope you'll watch it and leave your thoughts in the comments.

Monday, January 10, 2011


I'm so nervous happy to tell y'all that my first official post is up over at the YAtopia blog.  It's a "gentle kick in the rear" kind of post targeted at newer writers, but I hope you'll pop on over and read it! (and comment!)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Practical Wisdom

"Practical wisdom is the moral will to do the right thing and the moral skill to figure out what the right thing is."

Yesterday I watched Barry Schwartz's TED video where he talks about "Using our practical wisdom." Here's the description from the TED website: In an intimate talk, Barry Schwartz dives into the question "How do we do the right thing?" With help from collaborator Kenneth Sharpe, he shares stories that illustrate the difference between following the rules and truly choosing wisely.

One of my favorite lines from this video is, ""Dealing with other people demands a kind of flexibility that no set of rules can encompass." He talks mostly about mandatory criminal sentencing guidelines, but I think the idea can be translated to just about anything.

He says that "people want to be allowed to be virtuous" but sometimes "rules demoralize professional activity." Thinking back on some of the jobs I've had, I know this last statement is true.

"We need virtue. We need character." I'd love to hear what you think. Leave your comments below!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Two Different Insights

I continued TED month by watching two videos yesterday (One for the 7th and a make-up one for the 2nd).

The first was Neil Pasricha talking about "The Three A's of Awesome." The talk, which is embedded below, (If you're reading through a reader, you'll have to click through to see it) was pretty good. It's mainly about taking joy in the small pleasures in life, about appreciating the good in the world around you. While I wasn't as impressed with his talk as I usually am with the TED talks, I love the idea of his blog/website and have added it to my Google Reader.

The second video I watched was entitled "Jill Bolte Taylor's stroke of insight." Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor is a neuro-anatomist (I think) who had the rare and scary opportunity to study a stroke on a first-hand basis. While the woman seems a little kooky sometimes, I thought her description of "losing" her left brain was entirely fascinating. To be fair, I've always found studies of the human brain to be fascinating, but I hope you'll watch this one and share your thoughts with me in the comments.

January is off to a Late Start

Yesterday I realized I hadn't decided which month January would be.

Before I start talking about January, I feel like I owe y'all an explanation about what happened to #reverb10. In case you didn't notice, I stopped posting about half way through the month. If I'm being honest? The prompts started to bore me. They were all asking (essentially) the same thing and it's not even a thing I was interested in answering once. I know some people enjoyed it, but it wasn't for me.

But it's a new year and (more importantly!) a new month and I hereby declare January to be:

TED Month!

If you don't know what TED is, you should probably get over to the website right now. Go ahead; I'll wait. If you've been reading my blog for a while you've probably seen one of my favorite TED videos: The Web as Random Acts of Kindness.

So each day this month, I'll watch a TED video. I'll be watching a few extras until I get caught up for the five days I missed at the beginning of the year.  Some of them I'll post here and talk about them and I'd love to hear some of your thoughts as well!

Yesterday I opened up my TED mobile app to look for a video. I have a new project that I've been doing some research on Arabic and Muslim culture for, so I was thrilled to see one of the top videos from Lesley Hazleton (a Jewish Brit), who discusses her experience with reading the Koran (four translations side by side with the original Arabic). Some of her observations will probably (sadly) surprise you.

As a catch up for January 1st, I also watched a short video from Jessa Gamble. I've always been pretty fascinated by the subject of sleep cycles (I never said I was normal), so I watched this quick (4 minutes) video:

Quick update: If you're viewing this in Google Reader, the videos don't show up so you have to click through for them.