RSS

Category Archives: Literature

The broken tooth, the coming crown, the 2014 Florida Book Festival and Writers Digest

I broke a tooth over the weekend and visited the dentist this afternoon spending a few hours in THE chair. I hate those shots that numb your jaw making it feel swollen like a puffy blimp. In a few days I will return for the fitting of the crown.

But when I returned home with that numb jaw, there was a surprise—a double dose of what I think was good news.

“”2014 Florida Book Festial and Comment by Writers Digest Judge“Crazy is Normal, a classroom expose” didn’t earn any awards from Writer’s Digest, but the judge’s comments were appreciated. :o)

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

Crazy-is-Normal-a-classroom-expose-200x300
His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

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 right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Not Broken! – Part 5/5

You may want to skip this page if you prefer opinions without facts used as support (this is known as hot air or natural gas).  I tend to support my opinions, some say, with too many facts (what I consider to be six cups of coffee).

There are more comparisons we should look at, and the first is comparing literacy in America with its northern and southern neighbors in addition to the top-ten countries with the highest reported high-school graduation rates.

In fact, there is another measurement that may be more meaningful than a country’s reported high school graduation rate. That measurement is functional illiteracy.

The United States and many other countries claim high literacy rates because the definition of literacy says, “The adult literacy rate is the percentage of people age 15 and above who can, with understanding, read and write a short, simple statement on their everyday life.”

However, functional illiteracy means that reading and writing skills are inadequate “to manage daily living and employment tasks that require reading skills beyond a basic level.”

Functional illiteracy is contrasted with illiteracy in the strict sense, meaning the inability to read or write simple sentences in any language.

For example, my older brother, (died age 64 in 1999) graduated from high school in the United States in 1953 and was considered literate due to the definition of literacy, because he could write and read at a second grade level.  However, he was functionally illiterate and never read a newspaper, magazine or book in his life. In fact, he could not fill out an employment application.

Now, let’s cast serious doubt on comparing high school graduation rates in America with other countries.

According to the United Nations Human Development Report, the United Kingdom, that reported the highest secondary (high school) graduation rate in the world, has 21.8% of its adult population age 16 – 65 considered functionally illiterate.

Switzerland, in second place for high school graduation rates has a functional illiteracy rate among adults of 15.9%.

Norway, in third place, has a 7.9% functional illiteracy rate among adults.

I could find no information on functional illiteracy in South Korea, fourth place, and Japan, fifth place.

Italy, in sixth place for high school graduation rates, has a functional illiteracy rate of 46% among adults

Seventh place Ireland has a 22.6% functional illiteracy rate.

Eighth place Germany has a functional illiteracy rate is 14.4%

Ninth place Finland’s functional illiteracy rate is 10.4%

Tenth place Denmark’s functional illiteracy rate is 9.6%

America’s functional illiteracy rate was reported as 20% among adults.

However, for a better comparison with a similar culture that has similar values and similar problems, I looked north to Canada and discovered that among adults aged 16 to 65, about 42 per cent scored below Level 3 in prose literacy, which is considered the threshold needed for coping in society. Source: Vivele Canada

In addition, the CBC reported on Canada’s shame, saying that nearly 15 percent of Canadians can’t understand the writing on simple medicine labels such as on an Aspirin bottle and an additional 27% can’t figure out simple information like the warnings on a hazardous materials sheet.

For further proof that comparing high-school graduation rates between countries as a way to judge America’s public education system was and is wrong, in 2009, Canada’s high school graduation rate was reported as 78% but the country has a functionally illiterate adult population ages 16 – 65 of forty-two percent (more than twice that of the United States). Even comparing literacy rates is not a fair comparison between countries, for example, because in Finland most parents teach his or her child/children to read before they start school at age seven showing us that culture has a lot to do with literacy too.

However, in America studies show that 80% of parents never attend a parent-teacher conference.

What about Mexico—just south of the US.  According to Mexico’s 2010 census 93.7% of Mexican males aged 15 and older were literate compared to only 91.1% of females, but what about functional illiteracy?  Mexico comes close to Canada with 43.2% of its adult population aged 16 – 65 functionally illiterate as my brother was.

Compared to America’s closest neighbors, the public-education system in the US is doing a fantastic job. Is there room for improvement? Of course, but the overall evidence shows that America’s public schools do not deserve to be condemned as broken. Instead, the facts say that most of America’s public school teachers are doing the job they were hired to do while it is politicians that are telling them what to teach.

Another factor to consider is High School graduation rates by race/ethnicity in the United States

For the 2007-08 school year, 91.4% of Asian/Pacific Islanders graduated from high school (156,687); 81% of Whites (1,853,476); 64.2% of American Indian/Alaska Native (31.707); 63.5% of Hispanic (443,238), and 61.5% of Blacks (415,111). Source: U.S. Department of Education

Most schools have all five races/ethnicities represented in the same classrooms (the schools I taught in for thirty years did) with the same teachers. However, when the numbers are averaged, critics of public education blame the teachers.

When averaged, the graduation rate in 2008 was 74.9%, which makes the public schools seem to be earning a C while they are earning an A- for the Asian/Pacific Islanders and a B- for Whites.

Really? How can the same teacher be so successful with Asian/Pacific Islanders and Whites and not with the other ethnic groups?

This is the advise I told our daughter when she was in grade school: “The only excuse to fail and not learn in school is when students do not pay attention, ask questions, read, do homework, class work, etc.  There is no excuse. Even if the teacher is incompetent, a motivated student will still learn.” And she did.

In addition, the graduation rates increase when the GED is included with traditional high-school degrees. In 2009, the completion rates of 18-through 24-year-olds was: 88.3% white, 87.1% black, and 76.8% Hispanic. Source: U.S. Department of Education

If an Asian or White student is successful with a teacher, why can’t the Hispanic or Black student have the same success with the same teacher?  After all, the teacher is responsible to teach and the student is responsible to learn (or has this been forgotten).  If the teacher wasn’t doing his or her job, then the Asians and Whites should have graduation rates similar to Hispanics and Blacks.

Return to Not Broken! – Part 4 or start with Part 1

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

What is the Matter with Parents these Days? – Part 3/4

Yes, my wife and me felt it was more important that our daughter be happier as an adult than during her childhood, which is why we left the TV off, no video games, no social networking (at least until her second year in high school), limited the number of school dances she attended, no mobile phone for personal use and focused on her reading books, doing homework, learning ballet, piano, how to change a flat tire, install a toilet, change a lock, install drywall, tile a floor, etc.

And last but not least, we never bought or drank any brand of soda. There was water and then there was water (sometimes there was fruit juice such as apple or orange juice).

Needless to say, many of our daughter’s peers in middle and high school felt sorry for her, because she wasn’t having as much fun as they were. However, our daughter graduated from high school with a 4.65 GPA and was accepted to Stanford University (the only student from her high school that year) where she is starting her third year majoring in biology with goals to pursue a medical degree.

Contrary to popular opinion, she’s happy and loves to dance and play the piano and enjoys reading books. She has a boyfriend at Stanford she loves too and the two share many similar interests. She might want to be happy every waking moment and have loads of fun but she learned as a child that there is a difference between work, happiness, entertainment, bring bored and depression.

To achieve a better chance at adult happiness, her mother and me had to say no to many things leading to boring hours doing homework and studying in addition to reading books to fill the empty hours.

After all, according to the law in California (it varies by state ranging from age 14 to 18), one is a child until his or her eighteenth birthday. Then the child becomes an adult with a life expectancy of at least 84.9 years (on average) if he or she has a college education and earns an above average income. You see, education and income has a significant impact on health and a higher life expectancy and the average college graduate earns much more than a high-school dropout or high-school graduate.

Science Daily reported, “New findings from Harvard Medical School and Harvard University demonstrate that individuals with more than 12 years of education have significantly longer life expectancy than those who never went beyond high school. … Overall in the groups studied, as of 2000, better educated at age 25 could expect to live to age 82; for less educated, 75.”

In addition, The Economic Policy Institute discovered “While life expectancy has grown across the United States between 1980 and 2000, the degree to which people live longer has become increasingly connected to their socio-economic status.” The average life expectancy of the least well-off in 2000 was 74.7 years while it was 79.2 years for those that were most well off—meaning they had more money and usually a better education.

However, if left up to most children in the average family that does not live in poverty, happiness means not exercising, eating lots of sugary foods swallowed with gallons of sugary sodas, watching TV, listening to music, social networking, playing video games, hanging out with friends after school and on weekends, sending daily text messages by the dozens—and according to surveys and studies that is what the average child in America is doing ten hours a day.

Where are the parents?

Then there is this thing about parents blindly encouraging kids to follow their dreams without a realistic backup plan.

Continued on July 26, 2012 in What is the Matter with Parents these Days? – Part 4 or return to Part 2

View as Single Page

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

“The Concubine Saga” Web Tour Schedule – June 2012

So Many Precious Books May 30 Review & Giveaway

Broken Teepee June 1 Review & Giveaway

My Little Pocketbooks June 30 Review

My Little Pocketbooks June 4 Interview & Giveaway

Bookish Dame June 6 Review

Bookish Dame G & GP June 6 Guest Post & Giveaway

J.A. Beard June 8 Interview

My Devotional Thoughts June 8 Review

My Devotional Thoughts June 9 Guest Post & Giveaway

Book Dilettante June 11 Review

Book Dilettante June 12 Guest Post

Joy Story June 12 Review

Books, Books, & More Books June 13 Review & Giveaway

Live to Read June 14 Review

Peeking Between the Pages June 14 Guest Post & Giveaway

Col Reads June 15 Review

Celtic Lady’s Reviews June 18 Review

Ink Spots & Roses June 18 Guest Post & Giveaway

The Readers Cafe June 19 Review

Knitting and Sundries June 20 Review & Giveaway

Sweeps 4 Bloggers June 21 Review & Giveaway

The Reading Life June 22 Review

The Reading Life June 21 Interview

Historical Fiction Connection June 22 Guest Post

Layered Pages June 25 Review

Layered Pages June 26 Interview
Historical Tapestry June 25 Guest Post

Peaceful Wishing June 26 Review

To Read or Not to Read June 27 Review

To Read or Not to Read June 28 Guest Post & Giveaway

M Denise C. June 28 Review

Succotash Reviews June 29 Review & Giveaway
Moonlight Gleam June 29 Guest Post & Giveaway

Jayne’s Books June 29 Review & Giveaway

___________________________________

PRESS RELEASE
FOR RELEASE before June 1, 2012
CONTACT:
Lloyd Lofthouse, author
lflwriter@gmail.com

IN THE 19th and EARLY 20th CENTURY, ROBERT HART WAS CRUCIAL TO THE SURVIVAL OF CHINA!

WALNUT CREEK, CA (3/2/12) — Robert Hart (1835 – 1911) was the ‘Godfather of China’s modernism’ and the only foreigner the emperor of China trusted. In fact, Hart played a crucial role in ending the bloodiest rebellion in history, and he owed this success largely to his live in dictionary and encyclopedia, his Chinese concubine Ayaou. In Dragon Lady, Sterling Seagrave wrote that Ayaou “was wise beyond her years”. In Entering China’s Service, Harvard scholars wrote, “Hart’s years of liaison with Ayaou gave him his fill of romance, including both its satisfaction and its limitations.”

With sales in the thousands, award-winning author Lloyd Lofthouse brings My Splendid Concubine (2007) and the sequel, Our Hart, Elegy for a Concubine (2010) together in The Concubine Saga (2012).

My Splendid Concubine was the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

In the sequel, Our Hart, Elegy for a Concubine, he was the only foreigner the Emperor of China trusted.

Soon after arriving in China in 1854, Robert Hart falls in love with Ayaou, but his feelings for her sister go against the teachings of his Christian upbringing and almost break him emotionally. To survive he must learn how to live and think like the Chinese and soon finds himself thrust into the Opium Wars and the Taiping Rebellion, the bloodiest rebellion in human history, where he makes enemies of men such as the American soldier of fortune known as the Devil Soldier.

My Splendid Concubine earned honorable mentions in general fiction at the 2008 London Book Festival, and in 2009 at the Hollywood Book Festival and San Francisco Book Festival.

Our Hart, Elegy for a Concubine earned honorable mentions in general fiction at the Los Angeles Book Festival, Nashville Book Festival, London Book Festival, DIY Book Festival and was a Finalist of the National Best Books 2010 Awards.

 

In addition, The Concubine Saga picked up an Honorable Mention in Fiction at the 2012 San Francisco Book Festival.

Lloyd Lofthouse served in the Vietnam War as a U.S. Marine and lives near San Francisco with his wife and family with a second home in Shanghai, China. As a former Marine, Lloyd earned a BA in Journalism and an MFA in writing. His Blog, iLook China.net, currently averages 600 views a day with more than 200,000 since its launch in January 2010. My Splendid Concubine.com, his Website, has had 72,000 visitors since December 2007. At Authors Den, his work has been viewed 336,000 times.

Virtual Author Book Tours.com arranged the June 2012 book tour of 27 book Blogs.

In addition, in 2008, following the launch of My Splendid Concubine, Lofthouse appeared as a China expert on more than 30 talk-radio shows from The Dr. Pat Show on KKNW 1150 AM in Seattle to The Smith and Riley Show on WFLF 540 AM in Orlando Florida.

The Concubine Saga
ISBN: 978-0-9819553-8-4

###

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Magic of Literacy – Part 2/2

As a child, reading the books of Edgar Rice Burroughs is still  a fond memory.  Before there was Star Wars, Star Trek, The Lord of the Rings, Interview With a Vampire and Harry Potter there was John Carter of Mars.

When I discovered several months ago that John  Carter of Mars was going to be a movie, I was excited, and when the movie came out, I went to see it the first day it was released — it was everything I imagined it should be.  I have no complaints except that I wanted more.


10 Minute Movie Review from the FLICK pick

There are eleven books in the series and they are free through Gutenberg.org or offered at a low price through Amazon Kindle with no waiting for years as we did for each Harry Potter book and the movies that followed.

The Barsoom series is responsible for me going on to read books such as The Lord of the Rings (three times), the Anne Rice vampire series starting with Interview of a Vampire, all of the books written by Ursula K. Le Guin, and C. S. Lewis along with dozens of other authors and hundreds of books.


ten minute extended clip – movie trailer

Since reading is crucial to cultivate life-long learning, what better way is there to motivate a child/teen to read books than to have them watch a movie such as John Carter first. Once curious, those eleven books are waiting.

In addition, TV-Addiction.com says, “Reading requires the child to imagine what the words represent and this acts like exercise for the mind,  creativity, imagination, and constructive skills. Television (including computers) does the reverse and fills the mind with nonsense images that blunt the child’s intellect and imagination.”


John Carter – a surprisingly good movie

Then Veronica Scott writing for Ezine @rticles says, “With children and their development, nothing is more important than imagination to help the growth of thought processes and creativity, while research has proved that watching too much TV or spending too much time surfing the Internet stunts the imagination and actually retards the development of that area of the brain.”

Last, Life-Long Earning shows that Imagination and Creativity is vital for Critical Thinking and Problem Solving to take place.

What are you waiting for?  If you haven’t seen John Carter yet, go, and do not forget the eleven books that are waiting to ignite a child’s imagination and love of reading.

Return to The Magic of Literacy – Part 1

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga.

To subscribe to “Crazy Normal”, look for the “E-mail Subscription” link in the top-right column, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The Magic of Literacy – Part 1/2

Visiting both mobile and brick-and-mortar libraries as a child turned me into an avid reader and a lifelong learner leading to my earning an Associate of Science degree, a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing in addition to a teaching credential—about nine years of college.

As a child, one of the grade schools I attended was across the street from my parents’ home, which brings me to the cultivation of my imagination. Books!


Reading at home is important too!

However, learning to read wasn’t that easy for me. Soon after starting school, my fate and my future hung in the balance. Experts at the first grade school I attended tested me and told my mother I would never learn to read or write. In those days, there was no term for dyslexia. In fact, the “experts” didn’t know about dyslexia.

Nevertheless, my mother made liars out of those so-called experts and taught me to read at home. How she did it is another story, and it didn’t hurt that my parents both loved to read.

Both my mother and father did not have the opportunity to graduate from high school. The Great Depression and other family tragedies were responsible for both of them dropping out to find jobs and contribute to their financial survival at the age of 14. My mother ran away from home and found a job as a waitress and my father mucked out horse stalls at Santa Anita Race Track in Arcadia, California.

Fast forward to me as a child that learned to love reading books, and once a week, a county library bus visited the grade school I attended.

Years later, I worked in the high school library and managed to read sometimes two books a day.  It was as if books were feasts for my imagination and soul. I read all the historical fiction I could find on the British Empire, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, and American history. Then I discovered science fiction and fantasy, which led to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom series. Later, I would add westerns and mysteries to the mix and eventually start reading literature at a much older age. As a child, I wasn’t ready for literature — not exciting enough.

Continued on March 12, 2012 in The Magic of Literacy – Part 2

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga.

To subscribe to “Crazy Normal”, look for the “E-mail Subscription” link in the top-right column, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Persistence Pays Off!

Over the years, as a teacher and a parent, I offered this advice to my students and children: “Follow your dreams but have a back-up plan. Sometimes your dreams don’t pay the bills.”

When we follow our dreams, whatever they may be, we often face failure and rejection, which may lead to depression and giving up. Since this is the story most people experience, it helps to read one where someone did not give up on her dream and struggled for almost a decade.

Amanda Hocking’s story is inspirational and the foundation of that inspiration was her persistence.

It wasn’t easy. She says, “In the past ten years, I’ve probably got hundreds or maybe thousands of rejection letters.”

As the rejections and criticism saying she couldn’t write arrived in the mail, she thought, “This sucks! I should just give up.”

However, her passion to write kept her going. In a recent post on her Blog, Hocking says, “You cannot control everything that happens to you. But you can control how you react to it and how you feel about it.”


In the first video, The Young Turks discuss Amanda Hocking’s story.

Tired of rejection, Hocking turned to the Kindle e-book in 2010 and self-published. She says she grossed $2,000 in 2009.  Today, she is a millionaire.

Amanda Hocking is now the rock star in the e-publishing world – selling hundreds of thousands of self-published e-books. Her young adult paranormal books have caught on like fire, getting her attention from the traditional publishing world and even Hollywood, which recently optioned one of her trilogies in addition to Hocking signing a contract with St. Martin’s Press for $2 million.

Amanda Hocking was born in 1984 and completed her first novel at age 17. She has now written twenty-two novels (published and unpublished).

USA Today reported, “Like writers from time immemorial, Hocking’s motivation to create a fantasy world stemmed from harsh reality.

“I grew up poor. I was an only child,” says Hocking, whose parents divorced when she was 11. “We lived out in the woods. We couldn’t afford cable.”

A rocky adolescence followed. “I was really unhappy … really depressed. Me and my mom fought constantly.”

According to USA Today, three things saved her:

One—the computer her parents gave her for Christmas when she was 11.

Two—the day her mother told an eighth-grade counselor to stop nagging her daughter to find other activities besides writing.

Three—she completed her first novel at 17, wrote constantly, took writing classes at local colleges and regularly queried agents and publishers, only to be rejected until she was already a self-made millionaire at 26.

Since dreams do not come with a guarantee, there is always the chance they may not come true but without persistence, they don’t stand a chance.  No one that has climbed Mt. Everest did it in one leap. They did it one-step at a time. For Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953, the climb took seven weeks from the base camp to the top.

It took almost a decade for Amanda Hocking’s dream of being a successful author to come true. For me, the same dream took more than four decades. In both cases, persistence paid off—something all young people can learn.

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga.

To subscribe to “Crazy Normal”, look for the “E-mail Subscription” link in the top-right column, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,