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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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What every author should know:  if you want your book to succeed today, you’ll need to do lots of legwork.  Here’s an inspiring story from a bestselling author:

 From: The Immortal Book Tour By Rebecca Skloot -- Publishers Weekly, 11/9/2009 2:00:00 AM

A month ago, I’d have thought the idea of organizing my own book tour with the help of my brain-damaged father was nuts. My father, Floyd Skloot, has written several books about the neurologic damage he suffered from a virus in the ’80s—it affected his memory, his abstract reasoning, and his ability to think about multiple things at once. Exactly the abilities a person needs to envision and organize a book tour. And I’m no better. Somewhere between writing a book, taking a teaching job, freelancing, and becoming my own publicist, things got a bit...

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Book Tours

From Publisher's Marketplace: Make eBooks Cheap, Or Grandpa Will Steal Them

It's tempting to dismiss today's NYT piece on ebook readers preference to pay less money for titles for the unsubstantial work that it is. But since it runs in the Times, some people will automatically take it seriously, despite the anecdotal reporting and absence of any data. (Not that none exists--but there's no mention here of recently-presented findings on price sensitivity from the BISG and Verso surveys, or Kobo's presentation that they sell almost as many ebooks at prices greater than $9.99 than they do at $9.99 itself, or the informal accounts of agents who have seen pricing data presented to them by Amazon. Or gosh, even the actual survey news of the week, in a "proprietary survey" from Goldman Sachs...
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Op-Ed From the Baltimore Sun, February 7, 2010:

Oysters vs. oystermen?Maryland should try harder to preserve both a healthy bay and a way of life

by Christopher White

A watershed moment in Maryland history unfolded last month when Chesapeake Bay watermen marched on Annapolis to protest Gov. Martin O'Malley's Oyster Restoration and Aquaculture Development Plan. At stake was whether the bay's shellfish beds will continue to be in the public domain - a public fishery - or whether they will be reassigned, in whole or in part, as private leases available for aquaculture.

Unfortunately, this issue is typically...

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In the recent issue of The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik writes: “In American writing, there are three perfect books, which seem to speak to every reader and condition: “Huckleberry Finn,” “The Great Gatsby,” and “The Catcher in the Rye.” All three very good books, but what about the women?  We think Gopnik’s pantheon leaves out some equally wonderful American novels written by women. If we...

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Guest post by Martha A. Sandweiss, Author of NBCC finalist Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line

Researching and writing Passing Strange presented many challenges, not the least of which was making my two main protagonists – Clarence King and Ada Copeland – equally vivid characters in the book.

King’s life is well-documented in the historical record. An intrepid explorer and brilliant geologist, he led the fortieth Parallel Survey that helped map the West in the years following the Civil War and in 1879 became the first director of the United States Geological Survey. A talented essayist and celebrated wit,  he made his mark among the elites of Gilded Age...

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 From Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Jan. 27: Economist James Galbraith, author of THE PREDATOR STATE, explains whether President Barack Obama’s spending freeze will hinder the government's economic recovery.

 Watch the video here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036677/vp/35116049#35116049

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From the 2010 Annual Letter from Bill Gates: Online Learning:

"The foundation has made a few grants to drive online learning, but we are just at the start of this work. So far technology has hardly changed formal education at all. But a lot of people, including me, think this is the next place where the Internet will surprise people in how it can improve things—especially in combination with face-to-face learning. With the escalating costs of education, an advance here would be very timely.

Most of us have had a teacher whose lectures made a subject seem fascinating even though we didn’t expect that it would be. If you are going to take the time to listen to a lecture, you should hear it from the very best. Now that finding and watching videos is a standard part of the Internet experience, we can put great teachers’ lectures online.

A number of universities are already putting lectures online for free....

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From Bookcritics.org/blog :

On Saturday, January 23, 2010, the National Book Critics Circle announced the finalists for its book awards for the publishing year 2009 at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in New York.

Biography:
Blake Bailey, Cheever: A Life (Knopf)
Brad Gooch, Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor (Little, Brown)
Benjamin Moser, Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector (Oxford University Press)
Stanislao G. Pugliese, Bitter Spring: A Life of Ignazio Silone (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Martha A. Sandweiss, Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line (Penguin Press)

For the rests of the finalists, click here.

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Rachelle Gardner has a great post up on her blog about why authors (as a group) need agents (as a group):

" You, as an individual author, may or may not require the services of an individual agent. But whether or not you realize it, whenever you deal with a publisher, you're benefitting from the collective work of agents over the years.

For the last few decades, agents have been on the front lines when it comes to advocating for authors in their relationships with publishers. It's interesting to speculate on the state of publishing contracts if agents had never been involved and authors had to fend for themselves or just take whatever the publisher was offering. ..."

Reach Rachelle's entire post here.

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