Byte-Size Blair | July 7

We’re back with Byte-Size Blair, our weekly wrap-up of all things social media. If you’re not already following us on FacebookTwitterTumblr, or Pinterest, give us a look.

1. We hope everyone had a great Fourth of July. And if you’re still in the mood to celebrate the early days of the United States, check out these “revolutionary” titles from Blair (and one hilarious gif, courtesy of Funny or Die.)

2. Bearwallow author Jeremy B. Jones has been busy touring the South with his amazing memoir about the influences of place and ancestry on identity. Here’s one of our favorite photos from a recent signing, proving you’re never too young to start loving books!

3. The October release of beloved UNC-TV foodie Bob Garner’s new book, Foods That Make You Say Mmm-mmm, may still be a few months away, but we’re already excited. Why? Because even just proofing the book made our mouths water (and tickled our funny bones.) We think this pin pretty much sums it up.

4. One of Blair’s favorite volunteer activities these past few years has been World Book Night, butunfortunately, last week, WBN announced they would be suspending operations in the United States. We’ll miss them dearly and shared a few photos on our Tumblr from our time as givers.

5. Just a friendly reminder that our July newsletter will be out this Thursday.

Our social media maven will be out of the office next week, so for now, enjoy this double-dose of Office Manager Artie’s adorable old pal, Snuffy.

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Byte-Size Blair | June 23

We’re back with Byte-Size Blair, our weekly wrap-up of all things social media. If you’re not already following us on FacebookTwitterTumblr, or Pinterest, give us a look.

1. Only a few weeks after the passing of Dr. Angelou, North Carolina lost another great writer and one of our most beloved authors here at Blair. Claiborne S. Young, author of Cruising Guide to Coastal North Carolina and Cruising Guide to Coastal South Carolina & Georgia, was a sailor’s (and a publisher’s) best friend. We said goodbye here.

2. Jeremy B. Jones celebrated Bearwallow at the official launch party. Books were signed, pictures were taken, a great time was had by all.

3. Ever wondered what our warehouse looks like? It’s every book lover’s dream: stacks on stacks!

4. Former Blair employee and current NCWN executive director Ed Southern was interviewed for Charlotte Talks, so we made him the focus of our Words with Friends last Tuesday.

5. One of Twitter’s best hashtags is #FridayReads, and we had a great suggestion, our newest release. See it here.

And your adorable Blair pet of the week is…Ernest Tubb. Tough as nails, soft as a pillow, hungry as a bear.

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Byte-Size Blair – May 12

Welcome to the second installment of Byte-Size Blair, our weekly wrap-up of all things social media. If you’re not already following us on FacebookTwitterTumblr, or Pinterest, give us a look.

  1. More Awards for Blair Authors–

  2. Writers Speaking Out Loud–Hub City, a nonprofit in South Carolina and one of the presses for which Blair distributes, has been making waves and headlines with their new movement, Writers Speaking Out Loud. They’ve been featured in Publishers WeeklyThe Guardian, and other news sources.
  3. Words with Friends–Speaking of our distributed lines, last week we introduced Words with Friends, a weekly post on our Tumblr that will highlight some of the amazing news coming from our friends at Hub City Press, Lookout Books, NewSouth Books, Eno Publishers, and all of our distributed lines.
  4. Crushworthy–The past week’s #MCM and #WCW entries were certainly notable. Teresa Kravtin, one of our reps, was voted Rep of the Year by Publishers Weekly. Brad Herzog, author of States of Mind, runs a hilarious blog and a press of his own. Plus, check out Y2K-era Matt Lauer… so much hair!
  5. Tweeting @ Blair’s Authors–The Hider triplets (two of whom, Anna and Julia are the authors of our upcoming Badass Civil War Beards) heart-ed our shout-out to their November pub date. Plus, Jeremy B. Jones of Bearwallow was just as excited as we were about the arrival of his memoir.

See you next Monday for more Byte-Size Blair. And for today’s bit of karma, we give you Tigger and Minnie Pearl, two doppelganger dogs of different owners, vintage, and gender, brought together when those owners became coworkers. Love at first walk.

Tigger and Minnie

 

Byte-Size Blair – 5 Fave Moments from the Past Week

It’s been a busy week at Blair. B.O.Q. author N.P. Simpson is on tour, we’re getting ready for the release of Bearwallow, and the 2014 IPPY Award winners included three Blair authors and two books from our distributed lines. And that’s just a small sampling of all that’s happening at Blair.

If you’re not already following us on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Pinterest, give us a look. Below are five of our favorite social media moments from the past week, in random order.

  1. The IPPYs!Met Her on the Mountain, Long Gone Daddies, and Porch Dogs all took home Independent Publisher Book Awards, as did In the Garden of Stone (Hub City Press) and Astoria to Zion (Lookout Books)
  2. Throwback Thursday–For our first #ThrowbackThursday, we threw it way way back, to Mr. Blair in the 1900′s, looking both dapper and adorable in an…ascot? Bow-tie?
  3. World Book Night–Okay, okay, we know World Book Night was weeks ago, but we got this adorable picture of our Designer Debbie and Business Manager Margaret up online a little late and it is just too cute!
  4. Uncovering quotes from Ron Rash–While looking for great lines from our April sales titles, we discovered a knockout from Ron Rash’s 2011 collection, Waking. Rash, better known for his prose, can even break our hearts with a dozen words.
  5. Dapper display in Wilmington–Pomegranate Books in Wilmington, NC, did a bang-up job of displaying the latest title from local, award-winning press Lookout Books, who just added another accolade with an IPPY win for Astoria to Zion.

See you next Monday for more Byte-Size Blair. Until then, we’ll leave you with this final thought from Publicist Trisina’s dog, Oatmeal:

Oatmeal's Nosevember Submeesh

Debbie’s Literary Resolution

This week in our Literary Resolutions blog series, we hear from Debbie Hampton, Blair’s director of design and production, about the book that is inspiring her resolutions.

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kissesfromkatieI suppose we all make some sort of New Year’s resolution deep down inside and never really voice it to anyone. Mine is usually something like I will be a better Mom, daughter, sister, friend, etc. And that is easily tied into the book I resolved to read this year since it was given to me by my family for Christmas in 2012. The book, Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption by Katie Davis, tells the story of an amazing young woman totally devoted to answering God’s call. She was a typical teenager living a comfortable life—planning for college, prospects of a good career, anticipating marriage to the love of her life—but, after a mission trip to Uganda to help with abandoned babies, her heart stirred and the pull to abandon a privileged life and be totally submissive to God changed her forever. By the age of 22 she had moved to Uganda, adopted 14 little homeless girls and founded Amazima ministries, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bettering the lives of underprivileged children.


By page 20 of this book I felt like the most selfish person that ever walked the earth. Here I am in my comfortable world of a steady job, a home, a wonderful family and friends, my wonderful church family, and God’s greatest gift of a beautiful daughter. How can I complain at all about anything or justify ever being in a bad mood or un-Christian in any way? But then I remember all that God has called me to do. To be a loving and caring Mother, daughter, friend, etc., and at the same time be a servant, be a giver, and be a helper to anyone in need. I fall short of all of these and I know by the end of this amazing story I’ll feel even more unworthy. But I hope to also feel even more inspired and reminded of enormous blessings.

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Katie Davis and her daughters

You can learn more about Katie Davis on her blog.

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Check back next week for another post in our Literary Resolutions blog series. Happy Reading!

Steve’s Literary Resolution

This week in our Literary Resolutions blog series, we hear from Steve Kirk, Blair’s editor, about his delayed success in completing a reading resolution.

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I made my literary resolution early (mid-December) and broke it early (January 2). The previous two years, I’d read the opening and middle volumes of Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium trilogy” over the holidays and happened to finish them on New Year’s Day. So I resolved to end 2013 and begin 2014 with the final book, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. But owing to company in the house, I didn’t finish until well past my target date.Hornets

No matter. Larsson’s novels are my kind of blockbusters—brisk, complex, and transportive. Though he goes on too long about Swedish politics and over-introduces minor characters, those flaws are overwhelmed by what he does well—namely, create memorable protagonists (Mikael Blomkvist and Lizbeth Salander), intricate plots, and an exotic setting. In Hornet’s Nest, he sustains a lively 563 pages with his title character mostly confined to a hospital bed and his two heroes together only on the last couple of pages.

I admit to being flummoxed by all the Jonassons, Carlssons, Erikssons, and Goranssons. And when I began the series, I pulled up a Stockholm map on my computer and made a futile effort to follow the action as I read. But I soon learned to plunge right in and let myself be transported. By the end, whenever Mikael Blomkvist might leave Café Copacabana next to the Kvarter cinema in Hornstull, then turn on to Bergsundsstrand on his way to the tunnelbana, I was right there with him, wherever it was we happened to be going.

Stieg Larsson wrote mostly for his own entertainment. He died in 2004 at age 50 from a heart attack after climbing seven flights of stairs on a day the elevator broke down. He never saw his novels hit print; they’ve since sold well over 70 million copies. Larsson had a fourth volume in process, a fifth and sixth at least in synopsis form, and a seventh through a tenth planned. My coming holiday seasons will be the less for his passing.

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Join us next week for another post in our Literary Resolutions blog series. Happy reading!

New Blair Blog Series: Literary Resolutions for 2014

We hope you all had fantastic holidays and are ready to face the new year head on.  Blair is celebrating the beginning of 2014 with a new blog series on our literary resolutions. I start us off this week with the simple goal toKeep CalmEasier said than done.

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Shocking though it may be about an English major and publishing industry professional, I have almost always been an avid reader. I would read late into the night, constantly have new titles awaiting me, and usually have a favorite book on hand.

I still love the idea of reading, collect books that I want to read, and plow through ones that I substantially start, but since becoming a passably functioning adult, I am usually in a less-than-alert state when I get home.

Rather than reading for a while, I am ready to curl up and fall asleep as early as acceptably possible (Meaning 8 p.m.-that’s acceptable, right?).

Sometime I get stressed out about not having finished a physical book in a while and I pressure myself to read. Anxiety-induced reading, however, is not enjoyable. No matter a title’s literary merit, very little of the text will register if I have to force myself to read it.

Compile this with the relative ease of unwinding in front of TV,

and I quickly give up on the futile resolve to make myself read.

Nonetheless, I continue to find books that I genuinely want to read, or to have read, which then makes me more anxious about my state of not reading. “I love reading, but I’m not reading. Am I a fraud? What am I doing? Why am I not reading RIGHT NOW??”

So this year I pledge to calm down about reading.

Rather than starting books that I think I should be reading, I am going to go with my gut and pick titles based purely on literary desire.

And I’m going to read at a pace set completely by my whims, not worrying about finishing for finishing’s sake.  Sometimes this will be in a fervor fueled by the intensity of my enjoyment, but often this will be simply at my leisure. And that’s okay.

By stripping away the pressure and letting myself enjoy reading again, I hope to regain my footing in the fold of true book lovers. 2014 is the year I fall back in love with literature. So watch out books, here I come!

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Check back next week for another post on Blair’s literary resolutions. Happy reading!

Don’t Forget Those Holiday Tips!

The holidays are a good opportunity to show people in your life that you appreciate them. Whether with gifts, baked goods, kind gestures, or generous tips.

The Boston Evening Post printed the following poem in 1764 to urge subscribers to tip their newsboys at Christmas:

The Boy Weekly Pads the Streets,
With all the freshest News he meets,
His Mistresses and Masters greet,
Christmas and New Year, Days of Joy,
The Harvest of your Carrier Boy,
He hopes you’ll not his Hopes destroy….
His generous patrons may inspire,
By filling up his pockets higher!

AmericanChristmasesThis poem is featured in American Christmases: Firsthand Accounts of Holiday Happenings From Early Days to Modern Times by Joanne Martell, a great book which offers insight into the history of Christmas in America.

So don’t forget all the people who make your life easier and deserve some recognition this holiday season. And always remember…

Blair’s Holiday Celebration

Blair celebrated the holidays today with some delicious desserts and our annual used book exchange.

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Some of Blair’s treats!

Are you ready for all of your upcoming holiday celebrations? Find some quick and easy gifts for everyone in Blair’s Holiday Gift Guide.

WellShutMyMouthWe’ve also got you covered on the baking side with a collection of cookbooks featuring recipes for bakers of all skill levels. For a chocolate fix, try out Stephanie Tyson’s “Easiest Devil’s Food Cake in the World with Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing” from Well, Shut My Mouth: The Sweet Potatoes Restaurant Cookbook.

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Easiest Devil’s Food Cake in the World with Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing
Makes one 9-inch layer cake

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups sugar1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 eggs

Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix on low until combined, then increase the speed to medium for another 2 to 3 minutes. Pour mixture into 2 greased, floured 9-inch cake pans and back for 1/2 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing

3 ounces softened cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 3 tablespoons milk

In a mixer on medium, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Melt the chocolate chips with the butter and allow to cool slightly before adding to the cream cheese mixture. Mix on low until smooth. Add the vanilla extract. Thin to a spreading consistency with milk.

To assemble, place a cooled cake top side down on a cake plate. Spread 1/3 of the icing on the cake, top with the other layer top side up, and coat with the remaining frosting.

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Give your sweet tooth something to celebrate this holiday season!

History in the Voices of the Voiceless

The new film 12 Years a Slave is based on the autobiography of Solomon Northrup about his time as a slave in Louisiana from 1841 to 1853.

12 years a slaveOn October 17, 2013, the film’s director, Steve McQueen, and star, Chiwetel Ejiofor, were interviewed by NPR’s Renee Montagne. You can listen to the full interview at “12 Years a Slave: 160 Years Later, A Memoir Becomes a Movie.

During the interview McQueen noted that he “was really upset with [himself] that [he] did not know about this book.” The story of Solomon Northrup is remarkable for the particulars of the man’s experiences as a free man tricked into being enslaved who then finds his way back to freedom. 12 Years a Slave, however, is not the only opportunity that we have to hear about the peculiar institution from slaves themselves.

MyFolksDuring the Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt employed jobless writers and researchers to capture thousands of voices of former slaves spread throughout the United States. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) eventually collected more than two thousand narratives from seventeen states, cataloging them in the Library of Congress as Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the U.S. from Interviews with Former Slaves. Though the WPA performed a major service by collecting these narratives, the stories languished in the Library of Congress for several decades until the 1970s when George Rawick put the narratives into a form that was more accessible to the public, entitled The American Slave: A Composite Biography.

FarMoreTerribleBelinda Hurmence was among the first to realize that many readers were still intimidated by the multivolume sets of slave narratives made available by Rawick. Culling the narratives collected by the WPA and others, she edited her first concise volume of slave narratives, My Folks Don’t Want Me To Talk About Slavery, providing insight into the lives of former slaves in North Carolina. Following the positive reaction she received from the public, she published two more volumes of slave narratives from South Carolina and Virginia. Her books have proved perennial bestsellers for John F. Blair, Publisher and launched our “Real Voices, Real History” series.

Voices_Cherokee_WomenWe have continued to expand our line of slave narratives, and to expand the idea of history told by the individuals who personally experienced it. Since then, we have published 12 total volumes of slave narratives, three volumes from the Cherokees, and four other Real Voices, Real History collections. One Real Voices, Real History author described her collection of first person accounts as an opportunity to “give voice to the voiceless.”

Chained_to_theLandThe most recent title added to this collection is Voices of Cherokee Women, edited by Carolyn Ross Johnston, published in fall 2013. We will also be publishing Chained to the Land: Voices from Cotton & Cane Plantation, edited by Lynette Ater Tanner, in spring of 2014.