Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: May 7, 2021

“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.” ~C.S. LewisAcademia serves a purpose of feeding the future, of taking minds with a limited set of knowledge and helping them realize that while they may have a perspective of vast understanding, the potential for growth and development of their understanding exists in a limitless amount of barren space. It is from this mindset that I believe C.S. Lewis claimed, “The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.”

I have read that quote numerous times, and as an educator and author myself, taught and thought from the perspective that in a world of information overload, we are in a different era than Lewis and have a new responsibility of cutting down jungles to help our students see clearly. As I write this week’s article and review the resources shared below, I instead think that our job, particularly as textbook and academic authors, must be to take our readers to the edge of the jungle, show them the desert that exists beyond that edge, and then irrigate it so that the jungle of knowledge continues to expand even further for the next generation of students and educators.

As you write this week, I challenge you to find the edge of your field of knowledge, to irrigate your own deserted landscape of potential, and to find ways through your writing to bring others to that point. Happy writing! [Read more…]

Words matter: Guidelines for pronoun usage

writing flowThere exists no attribute more central to the human condition than one’s identity. Our identity – whether it is cultural, professional, ethnic and national, religious, gender, or disability – is a central tenet of representation. It affects how we communicate with others and our communication about others. Thus, it is important that we as scholarly writers and professionals are as cognizant of the identities of our audience as we are of our own. [Read more…]

SOTA celebrates 20 years of legacy, scholarship and sisterhood

TAA congratulates Sisters of the Academy Institute (SOTA) on its 20th Anniversary!

Founded in 2001, SOTA’s mission is to facilitate the success of Black women in the Academy. Specifically, the organization aims to create an educational network of Black women in higher education in order to foster success in the areas of teaching, scholarly inquiry, and service to the community; facilitate collaborative scholarship among Black women in higher education; and facilitate the development of relationships to enhance members’ professional development. [Read more…]

Crafting compelling and purposeful titles: A five step process

Light bulb thinkingAlthough the old adage states “you can’t tell a book by its cover”, in academic writing it is crucial that the title of an article or book “tell” the essence of the work. The title is the first critical decision point for a reader. Its goal is to invite the reader to peruse the abstract, read the article, and, hopefully, cite your work.

The title does a lot of work for your manuscript, and there are many good reasons to pay attention to crafting short, content-rich, and engaging titles. First, for you, the author, spending time crafting a title forces you to distill your detailed, multi-page manuscript into 10 to 15 words, a daunting task. Yet, through this process you can gain clarity on your topic, enabling you to hone your discussion points and potentially your writing as well. [Read more…]

Inclusion means including everyone

Kevin Patton, TAA Vice President

As authors who have recommitted ourselves to the ideas of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our professional lives, one of the many struggles we face is making access to our content inclusive. However inclusive of race, gender, age, and other aspects of humanity our writing is, it is important to also ask ourselves whether all potential readers are able to access it.

As an author, I have often left accessibility issues completely in the hands the professionals among our publishing team. However, I realize more and more that, in many ways, that sort of inclusion starts with me. [Read more…]

How virtual choir rehearsal helped me clarify my writing voice

I became interested in knowing more about my writing voice when I received feedback on a draft of my first book chapter. My voice, my writing coach said, was not as clear as when I speak. Why not? I wondered. It seemed clear to me. This feedback and several discussions about my voice made me more attentive to my voice while drafting two book chapters over last summer and early fall. I asked myself how I sounded to my reader. I began practicing reading my drafts aloud to hear how I sounded, and I was pleased my writing voice was becoming more distinct. I was getting to know my writing voice, I thought. [Read more…]

For dissertation writers: When your partner wails, ‘I never see you anymore!’

student working on dissertationYou’re knee-deep or, more accurately, file/notecard/article/laptop-deep in your dissertation. You don’t hear anything around you—refrigerator opening, kids tussling, clothes washer whirring. You don’t even hear your name called for dinner. When you come up for air, you realize that your partner hasn’t spoken to you for days. When they do, it’s only to wail, I never see you anymore!” [Read more…]

The nuts-and-bolts of self-publishing

nuts and boltsSelf-publishing is on many aspiring authors’ lips as they decide how to bring their work to fruition. But how do you actually self-publish? What is involved with it and what are the steps? My last two posts have discussed the rise of self-publishing and considering whether it is right for you. Now let’s dive into the nuts-and-bolts.

Some brave souls or DIY type people might truly self-publish: that is create a publishing company, find an editor, find a typesetter, find a printer, contact Amazon, etc. This is all possible, but most people use a self-publishing partner like Kindle Direct,  IngramSparkSmashwords, or many others. For this post, let’s assume you want to use a self-publishing partner so as not to reinvent the wheel. [Read more…]

Spring Your Writing Forward: Get a Month of Motivation in April

Accomplish your academic writing goals by focusing on two areas of academic writing that many authors tend to struggle with – isolation and accountability – with TAA’s new Month of Motivation program.

To combat the challenges associated with personal goal setting and accountability felt by many academic authors, we have developed a month-long motivational email series that begins with a personal pledge to meet your writing goals. Simply share with us your goals, anticipated challenges, and what TAA can do to help you succeed, and we’ll help move you forward with daily email messages containing motivation, encouragement, and resources to advance your writing efforts all month long. [Read more…]

Are you stalling by revising too soon?

writing linesWhen we’ve squeezed out a few sentences, a paragraph, or page of the first draft of our current writing project, in our elation we may be tempted to go back and revise. The pull to polish is irresistible. So, we revisit those hard-won sentences and baby them into perfection. Then we sit back and bask with satisfaction.

But what do we have? Admittedly, a start, but really just a few sentences. We know we should have kept going with the fearsome task of confronting the blankness, but we yield. And often, our excitement in starting the piece dissipates, like steam out the open window. We sit there, staring or sighing, get up, and walk away to do something that eats into our writing time. [Read more…]