Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: January 22, 2021

What a week! As we seemingly race to the end of the first month of a new year, most new academic terms are in full swing and this week in the US it has been a week of emotion and words for many. The week began with the celebration of the life of Martin Luther King Jr. and peaked at midday on Wednesday with the inauguration of the 46th president, Joe Biden. Through it all, one thing is certain – words matter, your voice as an academic author matter, your contribution to the education of our society matters.

King once said, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” Are you meeting this goal in your education or the education of others through your work? In this week’s collection of articles, we share advice on restarting an unfinished book, getting your “Creator” and “Editor” on the same page, and how “Words Matter”. We continue with practical strategies for hypotheses, use of ethnographic field notes, and facilitating group discussions online. Then we close with industry and social interests related to publishing, sharing your research with others, and perspectives amidst the ongoing pandemic.

As you approach the week ahead, know that words matter and, more specifically, your words matter. Choose them wisely. Think intensively. Think critically. And build both intelligence and character through your words. Happy writing!

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The power of words

Yesterday, January 20, 2021, we witnessed the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States and of Vice-President Kamala Harris. The ceremony was filled with messages, constructed by words, shared by many people in positions of power – both in our national government and in the entertainment industry – through speech, recitation, song, and poetry. These messages and the effect of the words delivered throughout the event caused me to revisit a quote from Margaret Atwood who said, “A word after a word after a word is power.”

In this post, I want to highlight some of the words that resonated with me from yesterday’s event, other historical instances of the power of words, and advice for how you can ensure that the words you use in your writing exhibit the power of your message.

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What is your dream worth?

It’s one thing to have a dream. It’s another to do the things needed to achieve it. Every dream, including your dream of publication, comes at a cost. That cost will be different for every dream and every dreamer, but there are some common realities to all of them, perhaps the most important being that it is possible to pay too much for your dream.

To avoid paying too much, you must first identify what your dream is worth and measure the likely costs of achieving it.

So, what is your dream worth? Unfortunately, only you can determine the answer to that question. And you must answer that question before you can answer the bigger cost question of “Are you willing to pay the price for your dream?” To help you evaluate the value of your dream, let’s explore how to measure the costs of pursuing a dream.

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The rise of self-publishing

Self-publishing has been on an upward trajectory for over a decade, but has gained exponential strength even more recently. What is happening in publishing and the wider world to drive this?

In this post, I will look at self-publishing and the factors powering it. I will compare it to traditional publishing. My next two posts will examine the pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditional publishing, the finances of each, the skills needed to succeed in self-publishing, and the nuts-and-bolts of what needs to be done to self-publish.

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What if you had no limitations?

The first step to conquering your dream of publication is owning that dream. But most people don’t fully commit to their dreams. They accept a level of success within their comfort zone, “dream” of bigger, but crush that dream with a multitude of self-imposed limitations.

In his book, Put Your Dream to the Test, Dr. John C. Maxwell outlines 10 questions to help you see and seize your dreams – the first being the question of ownership. In order to own your dream, you must first be sure it is your dream and not the dream someone else has for you, then commit to that dream in a way that assumes no limits to your potential for success.

But how can you take ownership of your dream in a way that assumes you couldn’t fail? Here’s a five-part method for doing just that.

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Busy TAA People: Steve Barkan

An article by TAA member and former Council President Steve Barkan, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at UMaine, and Michael Rocque, Associate Professor of Sociology at Bates College and a UMaine sociology alumnus, received the 2020 Outstanding Contribution Award from the Division of Biopsychosocial Criminology of the American Society of Criminology.

The article, published in Critical Criminology in 2018, is entitled, “Socioeconomic Status and Racism as Fundamental Causes of Street Criminality” [26(2):211-231]

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Using a writing matrix to maintain academic productivity

In their recent TAA webinar, “Writing a Dissertation and Beyond: Tips & Tools for Launching and Maintaining Your Academic Writing Productivity“, presenters Danielle Feeney and Margarita Huerta discuss research-based, practical tools and tips that have helped them successfully complete dissertations and launch productive academic careers. Among the tips and tools shared during their presentation was the use of a writing matrix.

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Round up all those stampeding ideas

Do ideas flood your brain like a herd gone wild? Do you flail around, physically and metaphorically, trying to corral them and drive them into the barn? Are you going mad trying to figure out how to use them all?

I am almost constantly barraged by ideas for essays, stories, poems, novel slivers, quirky descriptions, and metaphoric pearls. Ideas surface everywhere: as I edit clients’ manuscripts, wash dishes, huff through workouts, wait on line, watch people, meditate, fall asleep, and even during tactful small talk at business dinners.

All the deluging ideas used to make me groan. Sometimes I’d even feel envious of writers who complained about their sparse fits of inspiration. I’d grouse internally that my ideas never seemed to stop. How would I ever get to them all, much less organize them or make something of them? Most would end up in a mass of ragged notes or on scraps stuffed under the scanner.

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Welcome new members to TAA: December 2020

With membership in TAA, you are not alone. You become part of a diverse community of textbook and academic authors with similar interests and goals. We are pleased to announce the addition of 82 new TAA members who joined us in December 2020. 

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2020 – looking back, looking forward

Regardless of the plans you started the year 2020 with, it’s likely a safe assumption to say that things didn’t go as planned. But as we close out the year that was, we want to share with you some of the highlights from TAA that have kept us going strong and remaining optimistic for an even brighter future ahead with you in 2021.

Despite the unexpected events and disruptions the pandemic brought to the world around us, TAA has continued to serve the textbook and academic writing community by maintaining our long-standing tradition of quality programs and resources while finding new opportunities to adapt to the changing environment, offer more online services, and develop new membership benefits for the years ahead.

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