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From the Boston Globe: Mine disasters and money

By Susan Kushner Resnick, the author of “Goodbye Wifes and Daughters,’’ the story of the Smith coal mine disaster of 1943

"ANOTHER YEAR, another group of men killed in a coal mine. You already know the story, because it rarely changes. Inspectors discover violations. Mine operators ignore them. Miners work through the danger because they need to make a living. Gas builds up and explodes. Some men die instantly from the force of the blast, and some die from the carbon monoxide. There are always a few unaccounted for or trapped, and those mysteries keep everyone’s hope alive for a while. Then, usually, they die, too.

This is what happened Monday in the Upper Big Branch Mine in Whitesville, West Virginia. Though the specifics have yet to be revealed, these are the uncontested facts: 25 miners died after an explosion. And Massey Energy, a firm notorious...

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Harper Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, today announced the acquisition of The Complete Plays of Sophocles, in a new translation by poets and playwrights Robert Bagg and James Scully, for publication in August 2011.

The new translation preserves the intent of the original Greek, while bringing into the text meanings and implications, dramatic tension and momentum, that previous translations have not captured.

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Richard Wilbur said of the new translation, “I have often taught Sophocles in my humanities courses at Harvard and Wesleyan, and I know that these accurate, colloquial and vigorous translations would seize the imaginations of students, as indeed of the general reader. Many respectable renderings of Sophocles exist, but too often their themes and passions are muffled by a too ‘...

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Joel Greenberg tackles the disappearance of the passenger pigeon in his new book, A Feathered River Across the Heavens, which Walker & Company's Jacqueline Johnson bought world rights to at auction. Greenberg, an avid birder and research associate at Chicago's Field Museum, examines how the passenger pigeon, once the most common bird on the planet, became extinct after decades of being hunted. Wendy Strothman brokered the deal, and Walker is planning a September 2014 publication.

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Author Susan Kusher Resnik contributed a helpful blog post about the meaning of success in publishing to Beyond the Margins:

The third definition of the word success, according to my Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, circa 1987, whose cloth cover is shredded like an old dust rag from use, is this:

Favorable or desired outcome; also: the attainment of wealth, favor or eminence.

I find it odd that a forum that divides each shade of meaning so distinctly would bunch those two definitions together. Because they’re clearly different. My second book has already brought me success as defined by the first clause, but it may never get me to the second. And right now, during the third official week of its life as a published entity, that’s fine with me.

You can read the rest of the article by clicking...

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From the the author of SKIPJACK: THE STORY OF AMERICA'S LAST SAILING OYSTERMEN, Christopher White’s THE WIDENING GYRE: A JOURNEY ACROSS A MELTING LANDSCAPE, his chronicle of several maverick scientists taking the pulse of glaciers and alpine environments at Glacier National Park, Montana, and their forecast for mountain glaciers worldwide, to Michael Flamini at St. Martin's for World English and audio by Lauren MacLeod at The Strothman Agency.

Keep up to date with author Christopher White at ChristopherWhiteBooks.com

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Guest post by Susan Kushner Resnick, author ofGoodbye Wifes and Daughters

I’ve been opening readings for my nonfiction book about a Montana coal mine disaster by acknowledging the obvious: I don’t belong with this story. What, I asked the audiences across the state of Montana, is a New Englander who has no connection to the west and had never met a miner before starting the book, doing here? Then I tell them how I found my subject. Or, rather, how the subject found me.

It all started with E.B. White. After reading The Trumpet of the Swan to my son, I decided I wanted to see the Montana swan preserve where White set a main part of the novel. A little research showed that the area isn’t as populated with trumpeter swans as it used to be and that it’s not near anything else that a conventional tourist would want to see. But Yellowstone isn’t far, and Grand Teton National Park isn’t far from that. We made plans to visit the...

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Last weekend, Wendy Strothman joined two editors, three other agents and about 30 midcareer writers at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard.  The setting was a panel discussion that sought to demisify book publishing.  Here's one piece of their invaluable advice:

Editors and agents think simultaneously about the quality of the idea and the existence of a market for it. This is why in developing a book proposals it’s important to research and write about the competition—the existence of other successful books in an area shows that people will be willing to plop down $25 for a book on the subject. As Wendy Strothman explained, if she’s going to spend months with an author developing a worthy idea, she wants to make sure that there will be a payoff in eventual sales.

For the rest of Constance Hale's report on the panel, head over to...

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The Teen Brain: It's Just Not Grown Up Yet

By Richard Knox

"When adolescence hit Frances Jensen's sons, she often found herself wondering, like all parents of teenagers, "What were you thinking?"

"It's a resounding mantra of parents and teachers," says Jensen, who's a pediatric neurologist at Children's Hospital in Boston.

Like when son number one, Andrew, turned 16, dyed his hair black with red stripes and went off to school wearing studded leather and platform shoes. And his grades went south.

"I watched my child morph into another being, and yet I knew deep down inside it was the same Andrew," Jensen says. Suddenly her own children seemed like an alien species.

Jensen is a Harvard expert on epilepsy, not adolescent brain development. As she coped with her boys' sour moods and their exasperating assumption that somebody else will...

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Client Hélène Boudreau has some excellent advice on her blog today about query letters.  Her query letter was so well done that Jabberwocky is using the first sentence on her book cover.

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2009 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalists

History Finalists
  • Richard Holmes, Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science (Pantheon)
  • Martha A. Sandweiss, Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line (The Penguin Press)
  • Kevin Starr, Golden Dreams: California in an Age of Abundance 1950 – 1963 (Oxford University Press)
  • Amy Louise Wood, Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890-1940 (University of North Carolina Press)
  • Gordon S. Wood, Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic 1789 – 1815 (Oxford University Press)

To see the finalists in the other categories, click here.

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