Posted in From The Editor's Desk

“The Appointment”: A Comic Strip

Comic courtesy of cartoonist Tom Gauld
Find Tom Gauld on Twitter : https://twitter.com/tomgauld

Tom Gauld is a Cartoonist and Illustrator of comics and covers for The New Yorker and The Believer. His weekly cartoon about the arts for The Guardian. Author of Goliath and Mooncop. New book ‘Baking with Kafka’ is out now in the UK. 

“You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you, and we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.”

Arthur Plotnik

Outside of professional writing, which included articles and columns, he is the author of eight nonfiction books and a number of literary works.  His bestselling title was The Elements of Editing, a guide that grew out of his training of new staff.  Published by Macmillan and  packaged  by the Book of the Month Club with the iconic The Elements of Style, it sold more than 200,000 copies before going out of print. Parts of it are still used in journalism programs. Learn more at: http://www.arthurplotnik.com/biography.html

Editing lets the fire show through the smoke ~ Arthur Plotnik

Posted in Book Launch, From The Editor's Desk

Release day for Krauss: The New Orleans Value Store by Edward J. Branley

I’m very excited to announce that today is Release Day for the latest book by Edward J. Branley —  Krauss: The New Orleans Value Store. I did the research, editing and fact-checking. Edward is beyond knowledgeable about all things NOLA, so it’s fun and interesting to work with him. I never know where our conversations will wind up, which rabbit hole I get to jump down. I always learn cool tidbits that I can use, and more information about New Orleans, which is awesome.

Come over to Amazon and order one, you won’t be disappointed!

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Krauss Department Store 1958-1960

 

Curious? Here’s a sneak peek of Chapter One: “Gumbo”

Gumbo is a wonderful soup that combines many flavors and ingredients, turning them into a unique dish that is revered in New Orleans. It’s the perfect food analogy to the city of New Orleans itself. And a food analogy is the perfect way to describe New Orleans in the first place.

Gumbo has as many variations as there are cooks who make the soup: Chicken-and-sausage gumbo. Seafood gumbo. Okra. Filé. Oysters. Crawfish? “Not in my gumbo,” a chef I know says. Turkey gumbo, made on the day after Thanksgiving. Each one is unique. Each one makes up the big picture.

New Orleans isn’t just one big pot of gumbo. The city is a collection of pots. Downtown gumbos include the French Quarter, the Treme, along Bayou St. John, the Sixth Ward and many other neighborhoods. Uptown gumbo is the Central Business District (CBD), the Warehouse District, the Garden District, Faubourg Bouligny, the University District, Carrollton. Back-of-town gumbos exist on both sides of Canal Street. Then there’s Canal Street itself. The 140-foot-wide main street isn’t merely a dividing line but rather a gumbo in and of itself.

At midnight in the Quarter to noon in Thibodaux, I will play for gumbo

—Jimmy Buffett, “I Will Play For Gumbo”

Like gumbo recipes, New Orleans has changed over time. At the start of the twentieth century, the city was the second-largest port in the United States. It was a city adjusting to twenty years of unprecedented expansion after the Civil War. Immigrants from all over Europe, but particularly from Italy and Germany, made their way to New Orleans at the end of the nineteenth century, shifting the flavors of the gumbos that are the city’s neighborhoods.

When the Americans took over New Orleans in 1803, they didn’t really bring a gumbo recipe with them. The Anglo Irish brought their own flavors, though, and those blended into the recipes that were already simmering on the stoves. By the 1850s, residents of the city could taste many variations of gumbo, and their reports of how wonderful this was attracted even more people to the magic.

While New Orleans was very much caught up in the political conflicts of the late 1850s that led to the formation of the Confederate States of America, New Orleans recognized that the port was paramount. When it was clear that the blockade of the port by the Union navy was killing the city, Farragut’s invasion from the mouth of the Mississippi in April 1862 was a force that locals could not withstand. Union occupation spared New Orleans the fate of Atlanta and enabled the port to continue to grow. Reconstruction allowed the merchants operating shops and stores on Canal Street to re-stock and expand. By the 1880s, dry goods stores supplied a number of ingredients needed to keep the gumbos simmering.

The 1890s brought a huge change to the retail landscape of New Orleans. S.J. Shwartz, financed by his father-in-law, Isidore Newman, opened the first department store in the city, Maison Blanche, in 1895. This development inspired other New Orleans merchants to follow suit, and in 1903, the Krauss brothers shifted focus from niche-market sales to the general-merchandise model. The gumbo pots of 1903 were flavorful and diverse.

Take the French Quarter, the city’s first neighborhood. When Adrien de Pauger laid out the plan for the original city in 1725, New Orleans was a French city. The French influence dominated until control of the city was passed to the Spanish in 1766, lest it become one of the spoils of war between the French and the British. The Spanish tweaked the gumbo recipe for twenty years, and then they were forced to totally re-create the recipe after the Great Fire of 1788. French-built homes and buildings were replaced with new ones that followed strict building codes. Spanish Colonial architectural influences left us with the high-walled houses focused on central courtyards, their beauty hidden from passersby on the streets. French priests tending their flock found themselves under the administration of Spanish bishops sent from Havana. The mix of languages, colors and political passions in the port appeared impossible to navigate, but the cooks blended the various ingredients into their gumbos.

The Vieux Carré, the Old Square, dating back to the 1720s, was a vibrant residential neighborhood at the beginning of the twentieth century. The original residents of the French Quarter—the French-Spanish “Creoles”—were the establishment families who didn’t want to associate with newcomers. Germans didn’t speak much English when they came to New Orleans. Sicilians didn’t either, and the Anglo Irish Americans, as well as the Creoles, viewed them as no better than African Americans. The easy solution for the Creoles was to move uptown. As they moved, others filled the gumbo pot. By the time department stores came onto the scene, Italian grocers and bakers, German butchers and African Americans were the people walking up Bourbon and Royal Streets to those big stores on Canal Street.

New Orleans outgrew the French Quarter by the time of the Louisiana Purchase. Bernard Mandeville de Marigny, son of a wealthy plantation family, decided to get out of the agriculture business. He subdivided his plantation, located on the downriver side of Esplanade Avenue and the French Quarter, into modern-style residential lots. Creoles, African Americans and Germans jumped on those lots and built out the neighborhood. As those first families acquired wealth and influence, many of them left Faubourg Marigny for Uptown. By the time the Krauss brothers opened their store, the flavor of the Marigny gumbo was distinctly Italian.

Like the French Quarter, New Orleans outgrew the Marigny, as immigrants from Europe came to the city in large numbers after the Civil War. The Italian families working in the Quarter and the Germans working along the Riverfront in the Marigny moved farther down the river. The political designation for the neighborhood was the “Ninth Ward,” and that name stuck. These immigrants hopped on the Desire streetcar line to join the residents of the Quarter as they all went to Canal Street to shop. The Ninth Ward gumbo was a true mix of cultures, until white flight of the 1960s removed much of the Italian and German influence, leaving the neighborhood as predominantly an African American gumbo.

While New Orleans’ expansion was primarily up- and downriver, there was movement north, along the navigation canals and Bayou St. John. The Carondelet Canal connected Faubourg Treme from 1795 until the 1920s. That water path to the outside world attracted folks who wanted to live along it. The neighborhood expanded east, from the banks of the bayou. The streets of the French Quarter, which had already been extended north through Treme, now continued, as they met up with Esplanade Avenue.

This northern expansion was typical, following a suburban expansion model. Families who couldn’t afford the courtyards of the French Quarter went north, to Treme. Those looking for bigger lots on which to build bigger houses kept going, following the bayou. When they got there, they built homes with front lawns in the English style. Their homes kept distinct French-Spanish features, though, such as wrought-iron fencing. The size of homes near the bayou ran from comfortable two-stories to the grandeur of the Luling Mansion. As the neighborhood matured, less expensive houses popped up in its interior, shotgun doubles and Creole cottages, for blue-collar families.

Faubourg St. John’s gumbo was an incredibly diverse mix. Waterfront businesses lined the bayou. St. Louis Cemetery No. 3, at the bayou end of Esplanade Avenue, along with the horse racetrack next to it, gave New Orleans City Railroad Company incentive to run streetcars from the river to the bayou, along Esplanade Avenue. That long run connected with cross-town transit lines as well. Good public transit attracts all types of people to a neighborhood, and that was the case with the bayou. When Krauss Department Store opened, residents of the bayou neighborhood could get into downtown by “riding the belt”—taking the Esplanade and Canal Streetcar lines into town and back home again, as they ran a circular route in opposite directions.

The popularity of Faubourg St. John continued, and folks looking for affordable housing moved even farther north, into Gentilly. Gentilly Road and Grande Route St. John brought streetcars and other vehicles east from the bayou, cemetery and racetrack until they connected with the Pontchartrain Railroad. The trains ran from Faubourg Marigny, out to Lake Pontchartrain, on Elysian Fields Avenue. The high ground of the Gentilly Ridge attracted homeowners, and a new neighborhood grew out from the ridge. The gumbo of Gentilly was less a mix of specific ethnic groups but a true New Orleans flavor, as younger generations of families who had lived in the city for some time moved out of mom and dad’s house in the Ninth Ward, looking to establish themselves.

It wouldn’t be until after World War II that retail stores expanded into Gentilly. As Krauss sought customers in the early twentieth century, the people of Gentilly made their way to Canal Street, along with everyone else.

The expansion of New Orleans along the Mississippi River ran in both directions from Canal Street. As the Creole families grew out from the Quarter, east and north, the Anglo Irish and Americans who came to the city in the wake of the Louisiana Purchase established themselves on the upriver/uptown side of Canal. The offices and businesses set up by these folks wanted to be close to the main street of the city and the downriver growth. Unwilling to allow the Creoles to control water-borne commerce, the Americans built a second canal, whose turning basin was located along South Rampart Street. This New Basin Canal extended out to the city’s West End. Stores and offices replaced homes in those first blocks just past Canal Street, as those who worked in what became known as the Central Business District, or CBD, moved farther uptown.

These offices and stores intersected with the activities of the riverfront within a few blocks of Canal Street. Wharves along the river gave way to warehouses a block or two in, along with light industrial sites. The Germans and Irish who came to New Orleans as human ballast on merchant ships out of Liverpool could find work along the river, so they built houses within walking distance of those jobs. The Irish built their first church parish, St. Patrick’s, on Camp Street in 1834. The Irish prayed for the men their families lost to accidents and disease during the construction of the New Basin Canal. Mothers worked hard, praying regularly that their children would fare better in America than their husbands. For the most part, they did, and the Irish community continued to grow, moving farther upriver. By the 1850s, they occupied so much of the riverfront neighborhoods that this section of the city became known as the Irish Channel.

The Irish were not the only ethnic group working along the river. By the 1850s, the Germans, along with Creole families, also made their homes uptown. The Irish Channel was actually three gumbo pots. The Germans and Irish were so separated, they even built their own cathedral-sized churches, across from each other, on Constance Street. These communities were quite insular, but they still made their way from the Channel back down to Canal Street. When Krauss opened in 1903, the Irish Channel still reflected the divisions on which it was built.

Like Bernard Mandeville de Marigny, plantation owners subdivided the land just upriver from the city, as it was more profitable to build houses than grow cotton and sugar cane. While the Irish Channel grew directly along the river, Americans built luxurious homes in the English style, north of Magazine Street, between Jackson, Louisiana and St. Charles Avenues. By the Civil War, this Garden District was the wealthiest neighborhood in the city outside of the French Quarter. The plantations that remained after the Civil War were subdivided, as uptown now extended from the Garden District, upriver to the former city of Carrollton. As the expansion continued, the streets running up- and downriver were extended: Tchoupitoulas and Annunciation Streets, near the river; Magazine Street, the de facto boundary between rich and poor; and St. Charles Avenue, Freret Street and Claiborne St. Charles Avenue, Uptown. The St. Charles streetcar line is the oldest continuously operating streetcar line (since 1834) in the United States. Library of Congress.

The uptown pots of gumbo were as unique as the subdivisions created there. The Irish Channel had its deep ethnic divisions. The Garden District’s wealth made it difficult for people other than the Anglo Irish, along with a few Creoles, to move in. Faubourg Bouligny, the subdivision that grew out of the breakup of the Bouligny plantation, extended uptown past the Garden District. Once a hotbed of horse breeding and racing, the area continued the trend of offering land where families could build both small shotguns and larger single-family homes.

Jefferson City and the University District all were more “American” than specific ethnic enclaves, always with the African American flavors blending in to make them interesting.

Even though the city grew upriver, the flow of retail goods did not follow the people. That meant all those families living uptown still had to make their way to Canal Street. Transit operators recognized this, as streetcars snaked their way through the uptown gumbo pots. Buses made connections to the streetcars, so even the folks of Carrollton could shop in the CBD.

As the river wound its way north from the French Quarter, small towns popped up in between the plantations. New Orleans annexed the city of Lafayette early on, absorbing the wealth of the Garden District. Jefferson City, just upriver from Faubourg Bouligny, was next, followed by the city of Carrollton.

By the 1890s, higher education had come to uptown. The Society of Jesus purchased a parcel of land that had been part of the Foucher Plantation. The Jesuits established Loyola University of New Orleans on that site. The Tulane Education Foundation acquired the land next to Loyola, constructing the first buildings of Tulane University in 1904. Both universities designed their campuses so their fronts were along St. Charles Avenue, making both schools easily accessible by streetcar. With the annexation of the city of Carrollton, the city of New Orleans had pushed expansion as far upriver as the adjoining parish of Jefferson would allow. Carrollton became the northernmost riverfront neighborhood.

It was a rich and diverse pot of gumbo, attracting Sicilian farmers from farther upriver into an area already populated by all the different types of folks found in other parts of the city. New Orleans’s boundaries along the river were firmly set by the time the Krauss brothers opened shop in the 1200 block of Canal Street.

Throughout this brief survey of the neighborhoods of New Orleans, note that there isn’t a separate black neighborhood. Since the founding of the city, black folks have been ubiquitous, both as slaves and as free people of color. The plantations along the river had significant slave populations, and the planters who maintained homes in the city proper staffed their households with slaves.

Africans did not come to New Orleans exclusively as enslaved humans. The port attracted free men of all colors who were looking to make a living and improve their position in society. Affairs between white masters and their slaves were commonplace. Some masters granted the children of their concubines their freedom. Those folks, along with blacks from the islands, made their homes in New Orleans, initially in Faubourgs Treme and Marigny. By the Civil War, Treme had become the cultural center of the black Creole community. St. Augustine Parish, founded in 1842, was the first truly integrated Christian congregation in the city.

Treme was the nexus, and black folks expanded their influence from there. Bernard Mandeville de Marigny did not segregate sales of lots when he subdivided his land, so the black population of the two neighborhoods adjacent to the French Quarter enjoyed solid growth. That growth continued as the city pushed north, into Faubourg St. John and the Sixth and Seventh Wards. Over time, black Creole evolved into just Creole, as the African American community began to dominate the “downtown back of town” neighborhoods.

The arrest of Homer Plessy as he attempted to ride in a whites-only train car from New Orleans to Covington in 1892 led to the Supreme Court decision Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896. That ruling established the constitutionality of separate but equal doctrine and ushered in the Jim Crow era. With the rights of African Americans severely limited in southern states, the Great Migration of African Americans from South to North began. This changed the gumbo of Treme radically. The pot lost a lot of its African American flavor and gained a distinct Sicilian makeup. Still, as Krauss opened, Treme, along with the back of the Central Business District, had a significant black population. That was important in the marketing strategy of the Krauss brothers.

Not all African Americans desired or could afford to just pull up roots and move away from New Orleans. Those who remained lived all across the city, some owning their own homes, others renting housing from whites. Public housing projects constructed during the Great Depression in the 1930s became available to black families after World War II, as the white families got back on their feet, moving into the newer neighborhoods of Mid-City and Lakeview and into the suburbs.

As Sicilians came in numbers to New Orleans in the 1880s and 1890s, they quickly filled up the French Quarter and downriver neighborhoods. When black families sold their homes in Treme, leaving town for good, the Sicilians gladly snapped them up. By the start of the twentieth century, the Italian community in New Orleans was well rooted in the Quarter and Treme (in the section of the neighborhood east of the Carondelet Canal). By 1915, the Italians had moved toward the lake to the point where they petitioned the archbishop to establish a new Catholic parish at the northern end of Canal Street. St. Anthony of Padua became the third Italian church in New Orleans, and the Mid-City neighborhood’s gumbo had a clear Italian flavor. Mid-City grew out on either side of Canal Street, from Greenwood Cemetery down to Broad Street, the northern boundary of Faubourg Treme. Light industry along the New Basin Canal and the west bank of Bayou St. John bracketed Mid-City, creating opportunities for the residents. Getting back to town to shop was easy, since Canal Street was just a short walk away.

The Lakeview neighborhood grew from both ends to the middle. The West End and Spanish Fort streetcar lines brought New Orleans out to the lakefront for day trips, as families did what they could to escape the summer heat. Homes and businesses popped up along the New Basin Canal throughout the early 1900s. In the 1920s, the Orleans Levee Board began extensive land reclamation projects that pushed the south bank of Lake Pontchartrain out and created new subdivisions. Numerous federal projects during the Great Depression brought road and infrastructure improvements to the area.

By World War II, Lakeview’s open land gave wartime industry and support a place. Higgins Industries landing craft and patrol boats were cranked out of factories in Lakeview, and the workers in those factories began to move closer to work instead of taking the long streetcar trip on the West End line. After the war, many men took advantage of the benefits of the G.I. Bill to start families in Lakeview.

Streetcars were on the decline after World War II, but the residents of Lakeview were able to get back to downtown via bus, riding down West End and Canal Boulevards to the cemeteries at the foot of Canal Street. From there, they connected to the Canal streetcar line to get to Krauss and the other stores.

Small communities existed outside the city limits for generations, but post–World War II expansion drew folks from the city to Jefferson and St. Bernard Parishes in numbers. School desegregation in the 1950s, coupled with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, created the white flight trend of the time. The early 1960s was the beginning of the suburban shopping mall, but it would be another decade before the trend was so rooted that older folks living in Metairie (Jefferson Parish) and Chalmette (St. Bernard Parish) felt like they didn’t have to go to Canal Street to do their shopping.

The Krauss brothers and their employees at 1201 Canal started cooking their own pot of gumbo in 1903. Their recipe changed only slightly in the ninety-four-year life of the store. It was all about taking care of New Orleans.

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THE TIMES-PICAYUNE ARCHIVE
Krauss, 1953
J. Phil Preddy, display manager, and John Fruge, who designed Krauss’ huge 50th anniversary sign, inspect the sign as workmen begin the job of putting it in place on the facade of the Krauss store in April 1953.
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TIMES-PICAYUNE ARCHIVE
Krauss adds jewelry, 1951
A jewelry department was opened at Krauss Co. in 1951. Morris Bullis was the manager of the new department at the store, Nov. 16, 1951.

About the Author

New Orleans native Edward J. Branley is a former high school history teacher. He has written five books for Arcadia Publishing, including Legendary Locals of New Orleans and Images of America books New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar LineMaison Blanche Department Store, and New Orleans Jazz. He is graduate of Brother Martin High School in New Orleans and the University of New Orleans. Branley is @NOLAHistoryGuy on Twitter.

Posted in Language, Ted Talks, Writing, YouTube

10 TED Talks for Writers … on creativity, process, storytelling, and passion

 

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story

Andrew Stanton: The Clues to a Great Story

Amy Tan: Where does Creativity Hide?

John Koenig: Beautiful New Words to Describe Obscure Emotions

Tracy Chevalier: Finding the Story Inside the Painting

Elizabeth Gilbert: Your Elusive Creative Genius

Pico Iyer: Where is Home?

Isabel Allende: Tales of Passion

Elif Shafak: The Politics of Fiction

Joshua Prager: Wisdom from Great Writers on Every Year of Life


What are TED Talks?

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages.

“It is not the task of a writer to ‘tell all,’ or even to decide what to leave in, but to decide what to leave out. Whatever remains, that meager sum of this profane division, that’s the bastard chimera we call a ‘story.’ I am not building, but cutting away. And all stories, whether advertised as truth or admitted falsehoods, are fictions, cleft from the objective facts by the aforementioned action of cutting away. A pound of flesh. A pile of sawdust. Discarded chips of Carrara marble. And what’s left over.

“Houses Under The Sea”

― Caitlín R. Kiernan

Houses Under the Sea: Mythos Tales. This one is Richard Kirk’s illustration for the collection’s title story, “Houses Under the Sea,” the altar to Mother Hydra.

The bastard chimera we call a ‘story.’ – Caitlín R. Kiernan

 

When a book leaves its author’s desk it changes. Even before anyone has read it, before eyes other than its creator’s have looked upon a single phrase, it is irretrievably altered. It has become a book that can be read, that no longer belongs to its maker. It has acquired, in a sense, free will. It will make its journey through the world and there is no longer anything the author can do about it. Even he, as he looks at its sentences, reads them differently now that they can be read by others. They look like different sentences. The book has gone out into the world and the world has remade it.

― Salman Rushdie, Joseph Anton: A Memoir

When a book leaves its author’s desk it changes ~ Salman Rushdie

Posted in From The Editor's Desk, Pinterest, Podcast

How an idea comes to fruition: Collaboration, Research, Pinterest, and Maunsel White

Ever wonder how an idea comes to fruition for an editor? Or if we actually do more than just stare at the computer screen at words all day? Let me tell you about how a typical jumping off point down the rabbit hole goes when I work with my client, Edward Branley. You know him as NOLA History Guy, and as the author of various books from New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line (LA), Legendary Locals of New Orleans,  and New Orleans Jazz.

One morning, Edward emails me:

Maunsel White was a planter and militia officer during the War of 1812. He’s buried in Cypress Grove cemetery. He’s going to make a good podcast subject. There’s a graf from his wiki page that caught my eye:
An 1850 New Orleans Daily Delta newspaper article (reprinted in several other sources at the time) noted that “Col. White has introduced the celebrated tobasco [sic] red pepper, the very strongest of all peppers, of which he has cultivated a large quantity with the view of supplying his neighbors, and diffusing it through the state.” Furthermore, observed the newspaper, “by pouring strong vinegar on it after boiling, he has made a sauce or pepper decoction of it, which possesses in a most concentrated form all the qualities of the vegetable. A single drop of this sauce will flavor a whole plate of soup or other food.”[6]

can you get the Daily Delta out of your database? 
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Maunsel White

 

Part of my research repertoire includes having subscriptions to various old newspaper databases. For this, I use Newspapers.com.

Newspapers.com has ~5,000 newspapers from the 1700s to the 2000s. It’s a great repository of old and new, and  I love looking through the old advertisements and the variety of places you wouldn’t see news from.  The captions and the verbiage make me smile.

Here’s what I mean, from The Daily Commercial Herald (Vicksburg, Mississippi) 07 March 1894 (Wednesday). An Advertisement for Tobasco (Maunsell White) 50 cents per bottle.

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The Daily Commercial Herald (Vicksburg, Mississippi) 07 March 1894

 

Here is the image of the page in The Daily Commercial Herald that I found the advertisement in:

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Since being an editor means a lot of research, where would one keep their research? Keeping it on the hard drive of the laptop means it is going to run slow. What if you need to collaborate in real time over Skype or Google? How do you keep it organized? I use Pinterest. It saves me time, and I label each PinBoard with the title of the subject I am researching. Some, only have two or three “pins”, whereas others have over 1,000.  Here is a peek into my Maunsel White Pinboard.

While you’re there, feel free to browse around. You never know what rabbit hole I am falling into these days. Enjoy!

OH… The final product Maunsel White Podcast [#1] from Edward Branley.
Here’s the other story on White – and his connection to the battle of 1812 and Andrew Jackson… stay tuned for the podcast relating to tobasco and the Pinterest board coming soon.

Editorial Extra:
Here’s a link to Tulane University’s online exhibits – Andrew Jackson to Maunsel White. You know I posted these images on the Maunsel White pinboard. And even when the job is done, the historian, researcher in me, never stops finding interesting things to add!

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Andrew Jackson to Maunsel White- Tulane University online exhibits
Featured image : 1879 menu from steamship Ed. Richardson includes “Maunsel White” sauce.
Posted in Books, From The Editor's Desk, Writing

What is a Beta Reader’s Role?

Beta readers are people who are most likely to buy and read your book. They play an important role in your publishing journey, as they see your book raw, naked, and parts you wouldn’t even show your mother. Make sure they are on your plan, as they will look at it with fresh eyes and tell you things you don’t necessarily want to hear.

My daughter is a beta reader for a series of books by my client, edward branley, since his “dragons” series (Dragon’s Danger, Dragon’s Discovery) is exactly in her age range. [Edward will tell you one of the characters is based on her. ] She tells him if it works, if it doesn’t and why it’s right or wrong. She makes suggestions to make it better.

The Book Designer has five tips for working with Beta Readers. I believe in all of them, so I’m sharing what they said:

  1. Don’t Give Them a Draft Your beta reader is still a reader — a reader who might tell other readers about your book. It’s important to treat your beta readers right, and that begins with what you ask them to read. Don’t give them your first draft. In fact, be sure that what you give them is the very best writing you can produce on your own. Write your draft and set it aside for at least a week. Go back to it and rewrite it if you need to. Then set it aside for another week — again. Revise, revise, revise, until it isn’t remotely possible for you to do any better.
  2. Your Manuscript, Their Way Before you send your manuscript to your beta readers, ask them what format they’d like it in. Beta readers might want to print your manuscript or read it on a Kindle. If they prefer the latter option, send them instructions for how to get your manuscript on an e-reader. Do whatever you can to remove any obstacles that will prevent your beta reader from carving out time to read your book.
  1. Give Them Guidance Let your beta reader know what kind of feedback you’d like from them. Develop a checklist with questions you’d like answers to. Do you want readers to comment on the strength of a character, or the organization of a concept? If you create a specific list of questions around content, beta readers won’t spend their time punctuating sentences. Adapt your revision checklist to meet the needs of each book your write.
  2. Don’t Take it Personally Remember, it takes a great deal of time to read and respond to a book. And your beta readers will have opinions that might sting a little. Be gracious for any feedback a beta reader gives you, even if you don’t agree with it. Ask yourself, “Will addressing this comment make for a better book?” If so, take their advice and apply it to your next revision. If not, whatever you do, don’t defend yourself. Your beta reader already knows your position (you’ve done as you’ve seen fit, as evidenced by your manuscript) but they don’t agree. Thank them for their comments and move on.
  3. Return the Favour Remember, you’re not paying your beta readers to read your book. They’re offering feedback because they want to help or they’re interested in your book’s premise or topic. If your beta reader asks you to be a beta reader in future, seriously consider returning the favour. And when it comes time to publish your book, give them a mention in your acknowledgements. Everyone likes to see their name in “print.”

 

Still confused as to why you need one, or what they are? Read on… 

What is a Beta Reader, and why do I need one?

http://www.smallbluedog.com/what-is-a-beta-reader-and-why-do-i-need-one.html

What makes a good beta reader?

http://www.smallbluedog.com/what-makes-a-good-beta-reader.html

The few, the proud, the beta readers

http://fiona-skye.com/the-few-the-proud-the-beta-readers/

Honestly, I’d tell you that you need a beta reader to help you revise your manuscript before you go looking for an editor. If you need one, I think I can point you in the right direction for that editor.

Note: beta reader featured image from Fiona Skye

 

Posted in Did You Know ?

Inauguration Day Trivia

The shortest and longest inaugural addresses were given by George Washington and William Henry Harrison, respectively. Washington’s second inaugural address was only 135 words long.  William Henry Harrison’s inaugural address was 8,445 words long. Harrison spoke for one hour and 45 minutes in a snowstorm without a coat.

William Henry Harrison also served the shortest presidency. He died of pneumonia a month after his inauguration in 1841.

The Oath of Office is traditionally administered by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, though not required. There is also no requirement that it occur in Washington, D.C., or that the president place his hand on the Bible. The only thing prescribed by the Constitution is that the president take the Oath of Office.

In 1937, Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first president to be inaugurated on January 20. Previous presidents (including FDR for his first term) had traditionally been inaugurated on March 4, but the 20th Amendment, passed in 1933, stipulated a January 20 inauguration.

Calvin Coolidge’s inaugural address was the first to be broadcast on public radio in 1925.

Thomas Jefferson was the first President to be sworn in in Washington D.C. in 1801.

James Buchanan’s inauguration was the first to be photographed in 1857.

A total of four March inauguration dates fell on a Sunday (1821, 1849, 1877, 1917); the swearing-in ceremonies in these cases were all postponed until the next day. Three January inauguration dates have fallen on a Sunday: 1957 (Dwight D. Eisenhower), 1985 (Ronald Reagan), and 2013 (Barack Obama); these three presidents were sworn in privately on the 20th and then a public ceremony was held the next day.


Sources:
http://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/inauguration-trivia-17-facts-and-firsts/

https://blog.newspapers.com/u-s-presidential-inauguration-january-20-2017/

 

Featured image“Remembering Lincoln’s Second Inauguration”

 

Posted in From The Editor's Desk

Martin Luther King Jr.~2017~ ‘I Have A Dream’

Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. *We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: “For Whites Only.”* We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”¹

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”2

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

 

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

 

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

 

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

                Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Resources:

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Photo courtesy of International Business Times
Note: Featured image from ABCNews

 

Posted in From The Editor's Desk

Roadmapping 2017

What’s on the calendar? Here’s a sneak peek

You can look forward to lots of projects from Edward J. Branley — the Talents Universe is doing great stuff, with some cool ideas for branching out the world and the characters into different formats.  Hint: If you liked the cover of Hidden Talents, done by Wendy Warrelmann, you should check out her page, and maybe figure out what’s coming. You will definitely see Talents book 2 – Trusted Talents out this year.

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Ren Thumbnail © Wendy Warrelmann

Another Dragons YA novel is in process to finish the trilogy, or it might be a tetralogy, one never knows what Eleni the dragon has in mind.

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Eleni the dragon © Elizabeth Person

Putting on his historical New Orleans hat, Edward is also writing about the Krauss Department Store in New Orleans which opened in 1903. While he’s writing, I’m helping with the research, looking at old newspaper clippings and advertisements on Newspapers.com, and doing some genealogy on Krauss family histories on ancestry.com.

Because there’s so much research and information we are passing back and forth, I am utilizing my Pinterest account to split the information into chunks on the Krauss Pinterest board.

Edward is working on a couple of other ideas that are too early to say, but, I promise, when I know, you will too!

Editor’s Note: I have been saying for a while that I want to do a blog series of posts on how Pinterest works for an author and editor, and researcher collaborations. I think 2017 might be the year you see it publish.

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If you have been in Barnes and Noble lately, you may have seen Tricia Cohen and Lisa Graves‘ medieval cookbook,  A Thyme and Place: Medieval Feasts and Recipes for the Modern Table on the shelves. It was the Featured New Release in June 2016, and Top Cookbook Pick in October 2016.

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I’m so excited to be working with them on their second cookbook, focusing on early America: A Thyme to Discover.

Lisa and Tricia’s Thyme Machine Cuisine website is a great resource to follow, filled with cooking stories, illustrations, and fun facts.  Here’s a sneak peek at their latest blog post, Medieval Chickpeas, a.k.a. Virile Chickpeas.

Who knew history could taste so good? 

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If you want to see what else they do, follow Lisa’s History Witch website. Lots of history, unique stories, and wonderful illustrations! I have been honored to work with Lisa on her coloring books.

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Ryan Z. Dawson‘s Graveworld series (Part One – Death Magick and Part Two – Winter’s Bones) will be out this year. You may recall it was originally titled The Death of Alan Shade. It’s still Alan’s story, never fear. At the moment, Ryan is in the midst of writing the  latest in the series,  Ellie Nex.  I’m looking forward to continuing our collaboration, and to see how the two stories dovetail together.

Did you know I also proofread and Fact-check?

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Science Fact-checking

I wear many hats, and really enjoy the time I spend doing fact-checking and research. In 2017, I am continuing my collaboration with Genome Magazine as part of their science fact-checking team. Genome publishes quarterly, so even though it is only January, I just turned in the Spring 2017 fact-checks, and am waiting on the Summer 2017 articles. Funny how publishing is always so far ahead in the magazine business. Want to know more, go check out my bookshelf.

proofreader-dictionary-entryProofreading

I’ve just jumped onto the Colborne Communications team, proofreading an online ESL project. Thanks Greg for letting me join in. The team so far is marvelous  [Hi Holly!] and very helpful on getting up to speed quickly.

I also do legal proofreading and research, reviewing assorted legal documents for correct grammar and syntax, misspellings, punctuation, style, and formatting.

Interested in getting on the editorial calendar? Have that manuscript sitting in a drawer and want a second pair of eyes? Need a proofreader or researcher? Feel free to drop me an email at: DaraR68@gmail.com.  

As you can probably tell, there is lots to do. So until next time…

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Warmly,

Dara