Friday, July 30, 2010

Wake Up and Tell Us Your Dream and Win Free Books!

The deadline to enter the "Wake Up and Tell Us Your Dream!" contest is today! Have your answers in by midnight to be eligible to win a copy of The New Science of Dreaming AND any single-volume book from the collections of ABC-CLIO.

Take me to the contest!

Read the full blog entry and rules here.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Face Transplants: Understanding the Effects on the Mind

Not so long ago, potential face transplants would have struck most of us as little more than an intriguing plot for a Sci-Fi film. But there have been several partial face transplants here in the U.S. recently, and earlier this week the first full face transplant recipient appeared for the first time in public at a press event in Spain

It's a brave new surgical world--one that enters psychological territory we've never tread before. When this amazing surgery is complete, how does one feel and what does one think, looking in the mirror to see a face that is not at all like the one he or she had before?

Authors Carla Bluhm and Nathan Clendenin explore the issues in Someone Else's Face in the Mirror: Identity and the New Science of Face Transplants (Praeger, 2009). They review transplant history from heart to genitals, as well as the medicine, literature, film, and media that show just how long humans have dreamed of the day when face transplants would be possible. The authors explain both the medical challenges and the victories along the way to successful face transplants and how in the future the surgery might be used to help more people, including our war-torn soldiers emerging from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The authors, based in the field of psychology, focus on the even less certain science of mental health issues that may arise involving identity. How much does your face matter to how you view yourself? What if your face changed completely? Would your perception of yourself change completely? One of the earliest face transplant recipients lamented, "It will never be me."

Professionals in the field and loved ones can stay one step beyond the fantastic medical science of face transplants, by understanding the relationship between identity and face, and how we may heal not just the body, but also the mind, after our most visible feature is lost and replaced with that of another person.

--Debbie Carvalko
Praeger Senior Acquisitions Editor, psychology and health

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Comic-Con 2010

ABC-CLIO's David Tipton (Manager, Editorial Development: World History and Religion) reports back on his experience at this year's Comic-Con International.

This past week I was in San Diego for Comic-Con, the largest annual convention held in North America. While its origins lay in the comic book industry, over time the convention has expanded its focus to include all forms of popular culture, including animation, film, television, toys and collectibles, and video games. Well over 100,000 attendees flock to San Diego every July for the show. Navigating the exhibition floor without being hit by parts of someone's costume or the bags full of books, toys, and collectibles can be a challenge!

Many of the most successful film and media properties today derive their content from comic books: Spider-Man, Iron Man, Batman, and so on. Many people are familiar with these names and their stories even if they've never read the comic books. The crowds at Comic-Con certainly attest to the popularity of comic-books as a medium of entertainment, but there is also value to be found in looking at the genre from a historical or pedagogical perspective. Cultural historians find comics useful as a means to find out about the times in which they were written. Their story elements and the values therein are valuable resources for insight into the past.

Comics also provide insight into contemporary values. Over time, the stories in comic books evolve and redefine themselves, sometimes re-emerging in new forms of media, such as movies and video games. While the core stories may remain the same through these continual retellings, the new versions invariably add new story elements that reflect current events as well as contemporary cultural values and issues.

 PHOTO: The Comic-Con Crowd

Here are a couple books recently published by ABC-CLIO that tie into these themes of looking at cultural history through the literary genre of comics.

Greenwood has recently published the Encyclopedia of Comic Books and Graphic Novels, by M. Keith Booker, which can help readers find out more about comic books, including the history of the genre, its scope, and its influence on American culture.

Libraries Unlimited has recently published The Comic Book Curriculum: Using Comics to Enhance Learning and Life, by James Rourke (read Rourke's blog guest post here). The Comic Book Curriculum provides teachers and libraries with ways to use comic books and comic book characters as part of the curriculum to increase student interest and participation.

Another theme that ran through this year's Comic-Con was an ongoing pop culture interest in vampires. From the Twilight movies to such TV shows as True Blood and The Vampire Diaries, vampires were definitely a popular topic at this year's Comic-Con.

Our recent Praeger title, Vampires Today: The Truth about Modern Vampirism, by Joseph Laycock (read Laycock's blog guest post here), looks at the phenomenon of modern vampires in contemporary society, going beyond the fictional vampires of popular culture to look at the lives of people who define themselves as real-life vampires.

Until next year...
--David Tipton

Free Books! Enter to Win!

The deadline for entering ABC-CLIO's "Wake Up and Tell Us Your Dream!" contest is fast approaching. You have until Friday at midnight to enter for a chance to win a free copy of The New Science of Dreaming AND any single-volume book of your choice from the ABC-CLIO collection.

Take me to the contest!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Book Club: Outstanding in Their Field

Elizabeth Ghaffari (Author Interview: Elizabeth Ghaffari on Women in the Workplace, 7/20) has developed discussion questions for women who want to read Outstanding in Their Field: How Women Corporate Directors Succeed for their reading group or book club.

A few examples:
  1. Has this book changed your thoughts about what women can or cannot accomplish in their personal or professional lives, today? Why or why not?
  2. Is there one director in particular that you would like to meet? Do you have a "favorite" director? Why?
  3. The author cites six lessons learned, overall, from all her research. Pick one lesson and discuss how any two of the women learned their lessons differently.
  4. What do you think were some of the common strong, early influences cited by the women directors?
  5. How did the women directors deal with prejudices they encountered during their careers?

For the full list of discussion questions, visit the book's webpage here.

For more information on Outstanding in Their Field, visit

Friday, July 23, 2010

CONTEST: Share Your Dreams and Win Free Books!

Wake Up and Tell Us Your Dream!

People all over the country are packing into movie theaters to see Inception, the Sci-Fi blockbuster about a man who extracts secrets from the subconscious of people while asleep in the dream state. But the movie is also sparking a flurry of media attention around the topic of dreams and what we know (and don't know) about them, and two real experts in current dream science are joining the conversation. Professors Deirdre Barrett and Patrick McNamara are the editors of The New Science of Dreaming (2007), a 3-volume set from Praeger and the most authoritative source that exists regarding the biology and psychology of dreaming. And now ABC-CLIO is inviting all of our faithful readers and first-time blog visitors to get involved in the discussion, have some fun, and generate even more thought on the topic of dreams, by taking part in this contest.

Please share with us your most remarkable dream--one that brought you to an "inception," or the beginning of a new personal path or idea. Perhaps it was a dream that made you recognize a problem or set you on the road to a solution. Maybe it was a dream that initiated a later action that changed your life, for better or worse. Or possibly it was a dream that simply moved you to an important insight that nothing in your waking state had--or could have--ever revealed so effectively. Tell us about your dream and what kind of inception it launched for you! Psychologists Barrett and McNamara will choose one winner to receive a free copy of The New Science of Dreaming set AND one single-volume book of your choosing from the collections of ABC-CLIO.

Click here for the link to the contest.

Click here to browse all ABC-CLIO titles.

Rules: All entries must be submitted by Midnight on Friday, July 30. Please submit only one entry per valid email address. One winner will receive a free copy of The New Science of Dreaming and one single-volume title of your choosing from any of ABC-CLIO's imprints (ABC-CLIO, Greenwood, Praeger, Libraries Unlimited, and Linworth). The contest is open to all librarians, teachers, high school and college students, and general readers.

Further Reading on Inception and Dreams

Wall Street Journal article w/Deirdre Barrett: "How to Tame Your Nightmares"
New York Times article w/Patrick McNamara: "Take a Look Inside My Dream"
New York Times article w/Deirdre Barrett: "Winding Through 'Big Dreams' Are the Threads of Our Lives"
Inception review for the International Association for the Study of Dreams by Deirdre Barrett
CNN interview w/Deirdre Barrett: "Can Your Dreams Be Manipulated?"
ABC News article w/Deirdre Barrett: "Inside 'Inception'"
USA Today article w/Deirdre Barrett: "With 'Inception,' Christopher Nolan's Head Games Continue"

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Author Interview: Elizabeth Ghaffari on Women in the Workplace

Being a woman in the workplace can be challenging at times; but it also can be empowering and rewarding if you have the right skills and the right attitude for success.

We asked Elizabeth Ghaffari, the author of Outstanding in Their Field: How Women Corporate Directors Succeed, for some advice for women who want to grow and excel in their careers.

Q. What is the number one issue/problem women face in today's workplace environment?

A. The women who DO lead, who DO excel, focus not on problems but rather on opportunities. In the 21st century, women have achieved more than their mothers (or fathers) ever could have dreamed possible. I know this to be true because I talked with my mother’s younger sister, and at the ripe age of 92 years, she truly sparkled with excitement and awe at the accomplishments of her daughters (entrepreneurs), her granddaughters (highly educated and competent professionals) and her nieces (my sisters and myself). She could not be more excited, nor could I, to learn about the top tier educational levels women have attained, the academic leadership, the civic and political roles and responsibilities, and the corporate ladders women have ascended. Another outstanding woman, Dame Stephanie Shirley (see her incredible career at once wrote to me saying, "May women soon cease to think of themselves as a minority." You hit the goal in your vision: if you are focused only on problems and misery, that is what will envelop your life. If you focus instead on attaining your personal and professional best, you will hit the target that you seek.

Q. What are a few things women can do to better succeed in the workplace?

A. On May 17, 2010 Sharon G. Hadary (the former head of the Center for Women’s Business Research) provided some good suggestions in a Wall Street Journal article entitled "Why Are Women-Owned Firms Smaller Than Male-Owned Ones". (See: Women can "think big," imagine a more successful future for themselves, and create their own entrepreneurships. Women can build their own boards of directors, not simply wait to be invited onto others' boards. Women can imagine a world where they are not simply "helpers" and "supporters" in the workplace, but are the people who create jobs in the workplace through building great businesses they themselves imagine. For those who doubt that this is possible, consider that it was just 20 or 30 years ago that we were telling all of our young women, "Go to typing school to get a good job". Or, "Go into teaching or nursing because those are 'safe' careers". Would we dream, today, of telling young women who are candidates for Business School or Engineering School to "settle" for anything but their best possible career vision?

Q. What makes your book stand out among other books on this topic?

A. Outstanding in their Field: How Women Corporate Directors Succeed (Praeger: 2009) is about women who look forward, not backward; women who stayed the course, did not opt out; and women who loved the skills, knowledge and constant learning that their careers afforded them. Even though they are extremely busy top corporate directors, these individuals are personable, caring, giving and genuine women who were gracious and generous with their time in order to encourage the next generation to pursue top corporate roles. Also, this is a book about governance – which is a unique form of leadership that taps more than 400 years of legal history, company evolution, and business contracts. Women have many contributions to make to the modern form of governance: they now have the opportunity and the responsibility of leadership.

Q. What is the number one question you are asked during presentations and how do you respond?

A. "Aren’t the women you interviewed so accomplished that I could never reach such a level of achievement?"

The women all started as daughters, just like you; helped their families, just as I’m sure you do; went to school and went after more education when the opportunity came their way; said "Yes" to unique challenges they wondered if they could handle; kept focused forward rather than backwards or on "problems"; and patted themselves on the back, occasionally, to encourage themselves to keep going when life tossed them challenges. These women are just like you – they are not super models, super stars, icons, or idols. They are hard working, conscientious, careful and diligent mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, nieces, and spouses. Just like you.

Elizabeth's 5 Need-to-Know Facts to Bring About Success:

1. Take the time to learn the fundamentals: what is governance, what is leadership?
2. Choose a worthy skill or endeavor that is of deep interest to yourself and which is valued by the business community.
3. Refine and develop that skill through your own personal efforts: take it to a higher level than you received.
4. Connect with others who are smarter than you are and who will challenge you.
5. Reach out and communicate with those who are outside of your "silo" of expertise: connect with multiple disciplines (including mixed-gender communities).

Elizabeth Ghaffari enjoys writing short articles for, the blog of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) and a terrific resource for women interested in director roles. A perpetual student at heart, she signs up for great webinars that are available today from universities and businesses, and she is interested in speaking engagements where she can share the book’s important message with prospective women in leadership. When the weather cooperates, Elizabeth hits the beach pathway on her bicycle, and recently, dipped into the iPad, which she believes is "a game changer". Stay in touch via her website.

For more on Outstanding in their Field: How Women Corporate Directors Succeed, visit the book's website on


Monday, July 19, 2010

Upcoming: Author Interview on Women in the Workplace

Tomorrow, Elizabeth Ghaffari, author of Outstanding in Their Field: How Women Corporate Directors Succeed, gives a few expert tips on what women can do to succeed in the workplace. We'll also be sharing an excerpt from Ghaffari's book later in the week. Stay tuned!

Read more about the book here.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Author Guest Post: James Rourke on Comics in the Classroom

James Rourke, history teacher and author of The Comic Book Curriculum, shares the importance of using comic books in the classroom and explains his motivation for writing his book.

Welcome readers! I suppose this book is a merger of two enthusiasms; my love for comic books that I developed in my childhood and the love for teaching and learning I developed as an adult. As someone who owes his love for reading to comics it made perfect sense that, in the never-ending quest to motivate my students to become engaged readers, I reached out to comics to enhance my classroom.

Initially, I used the work of Matt Morris (co-editor of Superheroes and Philosophy: Truth, Justice, and the Socratic Way, Open Court, 2005) – who uses Batman to illustrate Aristotle’s levels of friendship – but I quickly found myself making my own comic references consistently, and effectively, in class. The recent popularity of superhero movies made the references even more effective and powerful. Of course, the problem with such references is that not everyone has watched those movies. It always helps a teacher to create a shared experience in class that everyone can draw from – whether it is through showing a movie or having a shared reading. Comics, therefore, became an unexpected but welcome tool to bring certain curriculum points to life.

A great example of an effective comic book reference occurred just this year. While teaching a unit on Taoism some of my students struggled with the concept of wu-wei. Lao-Tzu, the founder of Taoism, emphasized that when someone embraces wu-wei everything gets done. The students struggled with this thought. If you do nothing, how can anything, let alone everything, get done? Thankfully, the superhero Wolverine came to the rescue.

I shared with my students an episode in Wolverine’s career when he was training a younger hero, Kitty Pryde. Kitty was attempting to free herself from the psychic manipulations of a super villain. Wolverine felt a strong body would help strengthen her spirit so the two went on an extended jog. While running through the snow, Kitty twisted her ankle and fell. She asked Wolverine for help and he refused, stating she had the strength to rise on her own. When she claimed she couldn’t, he offered the cold consolation that freezing to death in the wilderness would solve her problem and jogged off. Kitty regained her feet and finished the jog home. By Wolverine taking no action, everything was completed.

The students, thanks to Wolverine, realized that there is a level of discernment in wu-wei. They found meaning in the idea that we often take action for others when they don’t need us to, or we sometimes request others to help us when we can actually do for ourselves. This simple episode only reinforced for me the value comics can bring to classroom discussions. The Comic Book Curriculum is teeming with such practical applications for anyone seeking to find just a little more enthusiasm in any pages that they read.

-- James Rourke, author of  The Comic Book Curriculum: Using Comics to Enhance Learning and Life (Libraries Unlimited, 5/2010) 

JAMES ROURKE teaches history at the Norwich Free Academy in Norwich, Connecticut. He earned his M.A.T. from Sacred Heart University and holds an Ed.D from Johnson and Wales University. He lives in Connecticut with his wife, Shannon, and their four children, Juliana, Logan, Alice-Ann, and Ray. Also in the house are two cats, two dogs, two guinea pigs, and a degu. You can learn more about James and his work at

CONTEST! Leave a comment and tell us how you use comics in your classroom. One winner will receive a free copy of The Comic Book Curriculum. Be sure to include an email address so we can contact the winner!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Author Guest Post - The Encouraging Workplace

John Lubans, Jr., author of "Leading from the Middle," and Other Contrarian Essays on Library Leadership (Libraries Unlimited, 2010) sheds a little light on how to build a positive work environment.

How do you -- preferably in a few quick and easy steps -- create an encouraging workplace in which people do their best and, more importantly, want to do their best?

When people ask me this question, I don't have a prepared "elevator answer," one of those 30-second "big idea" pitches the aspiring manager is advised to have ready when on the corporate elevator, alone, with the boss. Pity the boss!

Photo: Cowboy John Lubans, Jr. on right, with Steve Holley, sitting down on the job.

Fred Emery [a pioneer in the field of organizational development] has contributed much to my understanding of what makes for a best work place. Decades ago, he and his research team -- working with hundreds of employees -- developed an abbreviated list of what workers want/need to do well on the job, to be productive. Let me stress that last word, productive. Being productive enables the future.

This April I was in Colorado helping friends clear a building site for their new home. It's in cowboy country, a land of campfires, and cowboy philosophy, with country and western tunes on the soundtrack. It's a place that offers us much to think about for achieving the kind of organization most of us want to work for. Inspired by my recent visits to Colorado and from many years ago when I was a library administer at the University of Colorado, I have expanded--with a western flavor--four of Emery's six elements for improving the work environment.

1. Elbow room (or "Don't Fence Me In"). Workers want control over their efforts; they want the freedom to do the job. Once trained, they do not want to be told daily what to do or to have to ask for permission to improve how they do their jobs. Elbow room, if generously offered, leads to genuine staff empowerment with positive results in helping customers.

2. Variety. People want variety in what they do in their jobs. They want to choose between the routine and the extraordinary. Self-managing teams, with all team members trained in the work (including leadership), offer the best environment for variety, of achieving a healthy balance between boredom and feckless multitasking.

3. Mutual support. A refrain in the song, "Home on the Range" suggests a fundamental basis of both cowboy philosophy and the supportive workplace: "Where seldom is heard a discouraging word."

In spite of our individual inclinations, the workplace can promote unsympathetic tendencies like schadenfreude [taking enjoyment in the troubles of others] or envy in a co-worker’s success. Bureaucratic structures (evaluations, bonuses, recognition programs that pit employee against employee, and other office mores) can undermine a supportive culture. These "systems" encourage competition and, at times, a willful ignorance. Recently a North Carolina bureaucrat told me "It’s not my job" when I needed something fixed. She went on: "I own only a small part of your problem; you really need to go back to the people who sent you to me." She wasn't about to budge out of her job description. Worse, she was referring me back to people whom she knew were incompetent! Indeed, with this lack of sympathy and purpose the country and western song has it right: "You Can’t Build a Fire in the Rain."

4. Meaningfulness. The last two lines of Marge Piercy's poem, "To Be Of Use" illuminates our yearning for purpose:

"The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real."

Emery found that staff want real work, and they want to understand why what they do matters. The worker knows that what he or she does can make or break a service. Knowing the purpose of one’s job can make the difference between a library user finding what they need or leaving in frustration, an empty pitcher.

From personal experience and from what other researchers have confirmed, I feel confident Emery’s elements can make for a good place to work, one that keeps getting better. The challenge remains for implementing these elements in ways that serve, not hinder, the realization of an encouraging and productive work place.

Good luck and happy trails!

Photo: John Lubans at the ABC-CLIO booth during ALA Annual in Washington, DC. 

John Lubans Jr., writes and teaches about library leadership and teamwork. He is a former academic librarian, currently an online adjunct teacher at Rutgers University. In early 2011 he will be living in Riga and teaching at the University of Latvia, as part of a Fulbright Scholarship Lecturing Award. You can catch up with John on his blog.

Friday, July 2, 2010

ALA Annual Conference: Recap

While at ALA Annual in Washington, DC, I had the opportunity to work with a film crew and record video podcasts with many of our authors. It was very exciting to meet the authors in person and hear all about their unique tips for librarians. We recorded 10 authors, including Joe Matthews, Judy Freeman, Peter Hernon, Helen Adams, Dianne de Las Casas, Anthony Chiffolo, Bob Dugan, Sharon Scott, Blanche Woolls, and Carl Harvey. These videos will give librarians practical tips that they can implement into their libraries right away, with just a simple click of the mouse. Although these videos are still in the editing phase, you can check out other podcasts we've produced on our YouTube Channel.

Below are a few photo highlights from ALA's Annual Conference. Enjoy!

--Elizabeth Millar, Marketing Coordinator, ABC-CLIO

Author Dianne de Las Casas signing a copy.

Taping an informative podcast with author Joe Matthews.

The ABC-CLIO booth.

Kids enjoying author Sharon Scott's toy vending machine!