The Best Birthday Present Ever

My copies are here!

My copies are here!


Today is my birthday, but more importantly – for me, at least – it’s also the official release date of my book, The Secrets of Top Students: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Acing High School and College! As a birthday gift from my publisher, I got fifty free copies of my book – which I now have to distribute to influential people, I suppose. (Anybody in the media or education want a copy?) But it’s such a cool feeling to hold my own book in my hands. It’s kind of like holding your baby for the first time.

It’s also been a crash course in marketing and publicity for me. I’ve already had some mentions in the press (for example, in the New York Post and the IMT Career Journal). And I’m lining up talks and at least one book signing. It’s pretty exciting, and a bit overwhelming!

I’m in the process of making a nice-looking flyer for my book, but for now, here it is in draft form:

Pssst!
Want to get better grades?

Then get The Secrets of Top Students:
Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Acing High School and College

Written by Stefanie Weisman,
Valedictorian of Stuyvesant High School
Highest GPA, Columbia University

With insight from 45 of the best students in the country

Includes:
• How to take killer notes, improve reading comprehension, and write amazing papers
• How to get and stay motivated
• 50 Grade A test-taking tips
• Three game-changing learning techniques
• The mind-body connection
• And much, much more

“An insightful guide for high achievers—and those aspiring to such status—from an authoritative source.” –Alec Klein, Northwestern University professor, bestselling author and award-winning journalist

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other fine booksellers.
Published by Sourcebooks, Inc. ISBN: 9781402280795

Are you considering starting a sweepstakes or promotion? Read this first.

It’s harder than you think! I’m considering starting one for my upcoming book The Secrets of Top Students: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Acing High School and College and I highly recommend this checklist provided by Santella and Associates. It’s chock-full of information about what’s legal and what’s not. (Hint: most things are not technically legal.)

Here are some other good links:
Legal Issues Affecting Promotions and Sweepstakes
Social Media Promotions and the Law
How to run a website contest without going to jail. This one’s particularly useful for writers.

The galleys have arrived!

The Secrets of Top Students Galleys

There’s nothing like the moment when you see your first book in print! I just got five galleys (advance, uncorrected copies) in the mail today from my publisher, Sourcebooks EDU. It’s such a strange and wonderful feeling to see all your hard work finally coming to fruition.

The book’s coming out in May, but you can also pre-order it on Amazon here:
The Secrets of Top Students: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Acing High School and College

Will We Be Publishing Books Written in Digital English Someday? (Guest Post)

I’m excited to introduce my first guest blogger, Alexa Russell.  In this post, Alexa writes about nothing less than the future of the English language.  While we need to recognize the importance of Internet English, we should be wary of relying on it too much.  What’s your take on the issue?  Should we embrace the patois of the digital age, or fight to keep ‘proper’ English alive?  Should digital English become part of what you actually learn in English programs?  Without further ado, here’s Alexa.

The digital migration brings millions of new users to the Internet daily, with even more returning day after day to their favorite informational resource. Not only do these individuals access countless stores of knowledge held on websites and databases, they also contribute to the Internet by publishing in the form of Twitter and Facebook updates and blog posts. Many of these publication forms champion cursory writing, and in response many Internet users have found ways to express themselves through acronyms or shortened words.

This has spurred a huge debate about the current state of the English language. On the one hand, many believe that the rules of grammar serve as the best way to express yourself and be taken seriously. Others, however, believe that these rules hinder actual communication and force people to follow archaic rules that are inefficient for the digital age. The point of using abbreviations or removing vowels from words, after all, is to communicate more quickly.

A January 2012 feature article published by Wired Magazine illustrates why we should embrace this digital form of English. As the headline announces, “Its Tyme to Let Luce” with the rules of casual conversation. “English spelling is a terrible mess anyway,” writes Anne Trubek, “full of arbitrary contrivances and exceptions that outnumber rules. Why receipt but deceit? Water but daughter?”

Efforts to stem the digital corruption of English only get in the way, Trubek argues. Autocorrect software, which attempts to make sense out of misspelled words, both purposefully and not, often further complicates intended meanings by correcting to the wrong word.

Even colleges and universities, the bastions of proper English and, are beginning to embrace digital applications. A January 2012 piece published in the New York Times reports the attempts of Duke English professor Cathy Davidson to do away with the traditional term paper in favor of consistent posting to a class blog.

Although she finds that this outlet supports writers that rely on creativity in their prose, many feel that the rigid rules of proper grammar need to be respected, especially by college students. “Writing term papers is a dying art, but those who do write them have a dramatic leg up in terms of critical thinking, argumentation and the sort of expression required not only in college, but in the job market,” said Douglas Reeves, founder of the Leadership and Learning Center and a columnist for the American School Board Journal.

The youngest among us have incorporated digital forms of English so completely into our usage that it often finds its way into oral conversation. The Baltimore Sun published a May 2012 piece on different acronyms and abbreviations that parents should know in order to communicate with their children. Many of the more popular ones, like “YOLO” and “OOMF” are relatively new but are already being used by millions.

What the digital migration has allowed people to do is construct their own rules of conversation, apart from those held sacred by the old school of grammar. There’s no doubt that people will continue using these forms of speech, and postmodern writers have long been published advocates of English deconstruction. With the ease of publishing today, digital English will continue to take hold. However, those who don’t publish works that adhere to at least some standard rules of writing, may find that their audience dwindles when they can’t understand what they’re reading.


Give yourself the gift of great grades.  Order your copy of The Secrets of Top Students today!

In Search of Charlotte’s Web

Did you know that E.B. White had a farmhouse in North Brooklin, Maine, which served as the inspiration for Charlotte’s Web as well as many of the articles he wrote for The New Yorker and The Atlantic Monthly? It’s also the focus of my story, “In Search of E.B.,” which appears in the Winter 2012 issue of the Michigan Quarterly Review (available for purchase here and in text form here). It’s about an unexpected adventure my traveling companion and I had while trying to find this still privately owned farmhouse in the middle of the Maine wilderness.

Without giving away too much of the story – I’ll just say it involves a Camaro, an unmarked road, and a rapidly rising tide – here are some pictures from the little trip we took last year.

Our Camaro and the approaching tide

 

Looking back in disbelief

Pictures from E.B. White’s farmhouse!

Rob holding E.B. White’s swing

 

Stefanie Weisman on E.B. White’s farm

 

E.B. White’s boathouse/ writing cabin

 

E.B. White’s Maine retreat

On a related note, I’m almost done reading The Story of Charlotte’s Web, by Michael Sims. This brilliantly written book details the forces in White’s life that led him to create his masterpiece. I identify so much with E.B. White – like him, I’m an introvert who loves to write and feels more comfortable around animals than people. I realized, though, that most of my memories of Charlotte’s Web come from the 1973 animated film version and not the book, which I think I read only once. Growing up, I was a much bigger fan of Stuart Little, and recently I’ve developed a great appreciation for his essays. But now I can’t wait to pick up a copy of CW.

“…remember that writing is translation, and the opus to be translated is yourself.” – E.B. White

How to Write a College Research Paper

I’m happy to announce that my first guest post for StudentAdvisor.com is now online! Click here to read The Five Rs of Writing a College Research Paper.
In case you’re wondering, the Five Rs are:

  • Read the instructions
  • Restrict your focus
  • Research actively
  • Reinforce your argument
  • Revise, Revise, Revise

Okay, so maybe that’s Seven Rs, but who’s counting? Read more here.

2/8/12 Update:
The Rise Scholarship Foundation has re-posted my article here!


For more tips on how to write a paper and much more, order your copy of The Secrets of Top Students today!