Lyndsey Layton: Governor Christie Falters in Newark

Lloyd Lofthouse:

More proof of the Double Standard designed to destroy the public schools in America.

Christie, in his typical bully style, makes clear that he doesn’t care what the people of Newark think. He likes Cami Anderson and that is all that matters. He just reappointed her for another one-year term.

Anderson is paid nearly $300,000 a year. In 2011, Christie capped superintendents’ salaries at $125,000-175,000, depending on the size of the district.

Charter school leaders and Cami Anderson are exempt from the state salary cap.

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Lyndsey Layton wrote a compelling account in the “Washington Post” about Governor Chris Christie’s calamitous and non-productive attempt to burnish his credentials as a school reformer in Newark.

Five years ago , Christie boasted that he would turn Newark into a national model of school reform. He and then-Mayor Cory Booker persuaded Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to donate $100 million for such reforms as merit pay and charters. Christie and his then-state Commissioner Chris Cerf.

What’s happened in the past five years has not enhanced Christie’s reputation as a reformer. His appointee as superintendent, Cami Anderson, has alienated students, educators, parents, the clergy, and legislators. Her plan, One Newark, was imposed without community support. Ras Baraka was elected mayor in large part because of Anderson’s unpopularity.

“Five years after Christie launched what could have been a career-defining policy initiative for an aspiring future president, city leaders are in revolt. On…

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Students statewide walkout in protest of new tests. Here’s everything you need to know and the schools where that is happening.

Originally posted on PROGRESSNOW NM:

Students across New Mexico are planning to walkout of classes Monday en masse to protest high-stakes standardized testing they say have little or no correlation to curriculum in the classroom but are closely connected to teacher evaluations and place their own graduation opportunities in jeopardy.  And many of these students have support from parents, educators and elected officials statewide.

First, take a moment to hear from the students themselves. The anxiety over these tests is palpable.

Students in a media arts class at Washington Middle School made a YouTube video that has been making the rounds:

These students explain it better than any policy wonk or bureaucrat so far.  Students (and their parents and educators who work with them everyday) share the individual experiences they bring to school — ‘gang violence almost killed me’ and ‘watched stepdad beat my mom’ — which require individualized education plans to help them become the musicians, artists…

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Forty-Five thousand U.S. Businesses are Built on a Foundation of Legal Seduction and Sex

The legal seduction and sex industry in the United States is built on a foundation of alcohol, food, music and consensual sex, and it earns more than the $14.6 billion that goes to illegal prostitution or the $10 – $12 billion spent annually on pornography – NBC News; Business Pundit.com

For a comparison, McDonald’s is the second largest fast food chain in the U.S. and it only has 14,267 outlets. Number one, Subway, has 24,722, and Starbucks 10,821. And the largest retail chain in the U.S. is Wal-Mart with 4,177 stores.

But the $20 billion annual legal seduction and sex industry beats them all with 45,000 locations. Even box office revenue in North America is less than $11 billion annually. – Statista.com

The legal seduction and sex industry in the U.S. is also an industry where global corporations seem to keep their distance even if their CEO’s, board members, managers and employees are patrons. Instead, it is mostly operated by individual entrepreneurs.

What’s interesting is that we seldom if ever hear about the legal seduction and sex industry in the US media.

Why is that—maybe because most Americans only want to think of the U.S. as a pure, righteous Christian country—a fake role model for the world? After all, the Pew Forum.org reports that almost 80% of adults in the United States are Christians. In addition, the Hartford Institute estimates there are roughly 350,000 religious congregations in the United States. This estimate relies on the RCMS 2010 religious congregations’ census. Of those, about 314,000 are Protestant and other Christian churches, and 24,000 are Catholic and Orthodox churches.  Non-Christian religious congregations are estimated at about 12,000. There are about 56 million weekly worshipers who go to church—less than 18% of the total population..

Does this make the United States a Jekyll and Hyde culture—on one side we have religion and on the opposite side legal seduction and sex that’s mostly ignored by the media to satisfy what devout (the less than 18%) religious Americans don’t want to hear?

In the early 1980’s I was the maître d’ for a few years for a nightclub, restaurant combination that was part of a small chain in Southern California called The Red Onion. The Red Onion where I worked had three bars on one side of the building and three dining rooms on the other side—one with a glass ceiling with full-sized palm trees inside. The lobby joined the two but the kitchen served both.

The nightclub was capable of holding several hundred lusty dancers and drinkers, and it had a DJ’s booth along with a large stage for live entertainment. The dance floor was between the DJ and the stage.

“While the dance floor in a nightclub of this size is the central arena of seduction, actual sex usually takes place in bathroom stalls, exit stairwells, and so on. In other cases the disco became a kind of ‘main course’ in a hedonist’s menu for a night out.” – Disco American Heritage Magazine by Peter Braunstein, Vol, 50, No. 7, November 1999

This world where I worked nights and weekends for several years was the inspiration for my next novel, a lusty murder mystery, The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova—that mixes seduction, sex and religion.

_____________________________

From the award winning author of ‘My Splendid Concubine’ and ‘Running With the Enemy’ comes ‘The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova’!

LowiDef Dec 19 Book Cover for Redemption With Title Flattened

Don Juan Casanova was raised by his grandparents to follow in the family tradition by becoming a Lothario, and as he approaches 40, he has successfully seduced hundreds of women.

But now, this former U.S. Marine and combat veteran, who is the flirtatious maître d’ of his family’s infamous beachside nightclub in Southern California, is facing a crises. His grandfather and then younger brother, also infamous Lotharios, are viciously murdered, and Don is the prime suspect. He also wants to stop his serial seductions and find real love with one woman who understands him, but he is discovering it isn’t easy to kick an old habit that may be part of his DNA. There are so many women to love. He’s confused and doesn’t know what to do.

Lloyd Lofthouse, author of ‘The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova’ on tour.

Pearson’s No profit left behind—Investigative reporting at its best from Politico

Lloyd Lofthouse:

The for-profit force behind corporate education reform in the United States—a company in the UK called Pearson.
In fifteen years, Pearson has come to wield, “enormous influence over American education. It writes the textbooks and tests that drive instruction in public schools across the nation. Its software grades student essays, tracks student behavior and diagnoses—and treats—attention deficit disorder.

Originally posted on Crazy Normal - the Classroom Exposé:

America’s transparent, non-profit, democratic public schools are being destroyed thanks, in part, to the profit motivated efforts of Pearson UK.

Stephanie Simon writing for Politico reveals that in the high-stakes world of American education, UK’s Pearson makes money even when its results don’t measure up and they often do not deliver. Instead Pearson’s mania for profits is proving to be very destructive and our teachers and children are suffering.

“The story of Pearson’s rise is very much a story about America’s obsession with education reform over the past few decades.”

“Pearson has aggressive lobbyists, top-notch marketing and a highly skilled sales team. Until the New York attorney general cracked down in late 2013, Pearson’s charitable foundation made a practice of treating school officials from across the nation to trips abroad, to conferences where the only education company represented was Pearson.”

Read the rest of this story at Politico: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/02/pearson-education-115026.html#ixzz3RMdKpfFg

Please…

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Word of Mouth Marketing for Authors

Lloyd Lofthouse:

Word of Mouth (WOM) is the most powerful promotional tool there is, and Julie Stock reveals the secret of how it works: “The first step is to find people online or offline who share your subject matter. You can do a Twitter (or Google) search for this if you’re starting with an online approach. Then tap into their shared passion. I have met a few people because of my love (with an emphasis on passion and love of the subject) of country music, for example. Once you meet them, let them get to know you and they may (with an emphasis on may) check you out as a result and find that you’ve written a book and hey presto!.”

Did Julie ask anyone to buy and read her book? No. She let them discover the book and make that decision by themselves without any prodding by her.

Originally posted on Julie Stock - My Writing Life:

logoI took part in this year’s online Romance Festival again this weekend organised by Harper Collins and the really wonderful thing was that this time, I was able to do so as an author! I was able to submit an author Q&A for display on the Romance Festival site and I also submitted one of my blog posts entitled ‘5 Things I Have Learnt from Writing my Debut Novel’ which you may have read on my blog recently. They were both viewed and shared many times and that felt really satisfying.

Not only that but from 2 – 8pm on both days of the weekend, there were Twitter and Facebook chats, virtually every half an hour by famous authors and industry people with tips to share, and there were also Google Hangouts with a number of different authors. I learnt so much from all these people but most of all…

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A Book Cover Must Make a Promise, and the story must Deliver it

The Winner of the Drawing for February 1, 2015 was:

Poetic Justice
@ http://poeticjusticect.com/

The details of the giveaway were:

“anyone who leaves a comment and votes helping me select the best cover will be entered in a drawing for a free e-book copy of the novel (or a paperback if the winner prefers one and lives in the United States). If the winner already read it, that’s okay. I’ll send the winner of the drawing a copy of my next novel when it comes out in a few months—“The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova”. It’s with the copy editor as I’m writing this Blog post and the cover is pretty much a done deal—I hope. And if the winner doesn’t want to read these two novels because they don’t offer the theme or genre the winner prefers to read, then I will offer an Amazon “Give as a Gift” equal to the full price of the e-book.”

FOURTH ROUND on 1-25-15

This may be the final cover. There were two more suggestions after I posted the choices for the third round. One suggestion was for a compromise between A & B, and the second suggestion was to take the kissing couple and make them partially opaque/transparent. I used the burn tool on Adobe Elements to take away some of the brightness in the stars and scanned the couple with the Eraser set at 5% Opacity. I started at 20% Opacity and worked down to 5% in several stages, and discovered that anything more than 5% and the lovers started to vanish into the starry sky. This cover revision is still open for suggestions until February 1, 2015, and I thank everyone who is taking part in the process.

Low Res Final  Cover on Jan 25

THIRD ROUND OF CHOICES ON 1-24-15

These two choices are based on the majority of comments from both Twitter and this post.

Jan 24 Low Def Final two choices of New Cover

SECOND ROUND OF CHOICES on 1-22-2015

Thanks to comments and suggestions the choice has narrowed down to two covers. They look similar but both have different images on the top third of each cover—which one works best?

Low Res January 22 - two choices

> the original post starts with the next paragraph <

How important is a book’s cover? Well, for an answer, The Midwest Book Review rejects books submitted for review if the cover doesn’t measure up to traditional industry standards. Midwest reviewers do not bother to open those books. They go in the recycle bin.

On Saturday, January 10, 2015, I attended the January meeting of the Diablo Branch of the California Writers Club to hear a presentation by Jim Azevedo, the Marketing Director of Smashwords. The title of his presentation was “The Secrets to Ebook Self-Publishing Success”. With a Power Point Presentation that had 72 screen shots, he focused on ten secrets, and the one that grabbed my attention was #2, Creating a SUPBERB cover image.

It was soon obvious to me that a book’s cover was probably one of the most important steps to publishing success after writing a riveting story that is professionally edited, because more than 26% of the presentation focused on the importance of an attention grabbing book cover that makes promises about the story.

Azevedo provided a case study of one cover that went through four changes. During the metamorphosis of this book’s cover from dull to boring, then interesting to sexy and hot, it was barely selling.

It wasn’t until the sexy and hot fourth cover in the sixth month that the novel took off and became an Apple iBoostore #5 bestseller, and today the book has been a New York Times Best Seller and is still selling well on Amazon—when I checked while writing this post, it was ranked #466 in competition with more than 12-million titles on Amazon.

The book I’m talking about is Playing for Keeps by R. L. Mathewson, and on Amazon it currently has a 4.5 average from 1,128 customer reviews. If you check out the paperback, you’ll discover cover number three (there were two clovers before #3 that are not worth seeing).

What does that #466 rank mean? The one-time “My Splendid Concubine” hit #56 on Amazon, it sold more than 2,000 copies in 24 hours. On January 13, Tuesday, the same novel sold three copies and was ranked #114,722.

Anyway, Smashwords’ Jim Azevedo got me thinking. The cover of my second novel, Running with the Enemy, wasn’t promising what readers would find in the story compared to the winning book covers that I saw in the presentation.

Now I have generated several choices to replace the current second e-book cover of “Running with the Enemy” (the paperback still has the first cover), and anyone who leaves a comment and votes helping me select the best cover will be entered in a drawing for a free e-book copy of the novel (or a paperback if the winner prefers one and lives in the United States). If the winner already read it, that’s okay. I’ll send the winner of the drawing a copy of my next novel when it comes out in a few months—“The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova”. It’s with the copy editor as I’m writing this Blog post and the cover is pretty much a done deal—I hope. And if the winner doesn’t want to read these two novels because they offer the theme or genre the winner prefers to read, then I will offer an Amazon “Give as a Gift” equal to the full price of the e-book.

If you decide to take part in helping me select a better cover for “Running with the Enemy”, there are four choices. Please indicate your choice in a comment. Thank you. To help you make a choice, I’ve copied after the five new cover choices the most helpful review on Amazon in addition to what a Writer’s Digest Judge said about the novel. In addition, if none of them work better than the current e-book cover, then I will return to the Adobe Elements editor and get back to work. The drawing for the winner will be held on February 1, 2015.

FIRST ROUND OF CHOICES

Resized and Low Res 4  Covers for Voting on 1-17

“Lloyd Lofthouse describes his book Running with the Enemy as a memoir that evolved into fiction. As a Vietnam veteran who had seen and experienced enough to leave him with post-traumatic stress disorder, he wrote this book it seems to come to terms with all he experienced in Vietnam. The book became fiction, an action novel with a strong romance component.

“Overall it rings true of war and what it was like to serve in Vietnam. Much of the book details the fighting, the casualties and the heartbreak and the trauma experienced by the soldiers. The book also takes you on a dizzying journey when the lovers Tuyen and Ethan flee to other countries in Southeast Asia – Laos, Cambodia, Bangkok, Thailand ,and Burma (Myanmar).

“For those who would like to get a sense of what combat was really like, this is an excellent book, which began as a memoir of Vietnam.” - A Novel of Combat by Harvee L.

“Obviously drawn from the author’s first-hand experiences as a Marine serving in Vietnam, Running with the Enemy is a rough but occasionally heartfelt war story. … The book is sometimes too obviously drawn from his experience. But ultimately that’s a small complaint about a book that, on the whole, is quite good and has a lot to say about the nature of the conflict .”  - 21st Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards commentary from an anonymous judge

Note: This novel—awarded Honorable Mentions in four literary contests and a genre Runner-Up in a fifth literary contest—was targeted by a flock of Goodreads trolls at the time of its publication. Here is the review from one of the Trolls, that I linked to the group of Goodreads bullies, who  never bought or read the novel and gave it one-star on Amazon in an attempt to sabotage its sales and my reputation.

“Lofthouse’s attempt at a 60’s-era thriller is cliched, trite and rather boring. If you’re looking for a good read, check out Graham Greene’s Quiet American instead.” - Miss M

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

We owe it to our children to combat Poverty and Racism in the United States

Lloyd Lofthouse:

Looking at that chart, I have to ask this question: With the obvious racism and discrimination that Asian Americans faced and still face in the United States, how did they achieve those numbers beating out even the Whites in every column? In addition, the Asian-American unemployment rate is the lowest of all racial groups. The Asian American divorce rate by race is also the lowest at 8% while Whites are the highest at 27%, African Americans are 22% and Hispanics are 20%. There’s more I could add to this list, but that’s in another post.

Originally posted on Crazy Normal - the Classroom Exposé:

An older friend of mine who is in his 80’s once told me that he’d rather be wealthy and unhappy than poor and hungry. Then there is the old curse of racism.

Racism exists when one ethnic group dominates, excludes, or seeks to eliminate another ethnic group on the basis that it believes are hereditary and unalterable, and in history there is no end to examples of racism. To this day, examples of racism may be found in Europe, Australia, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, North American, etc.

For instance, the persecution and murder of millions of Jews by Hitler’s Nazis during World War II, and the list of ethnic cleansings can be traced back to 350 AD in ancient China when 200,000 people with racial characteristics such as high-bridged noses and bushy beards were slaughtered. The history of racism through ethnic cleansings is so long and brutal, it might…

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