Publishing Workshop, Lund University, Sweden, November 2018

In this post Sarah talks about her recent visit to Lund University in Sweden where she co-facilitated a publishing workshop.

Planning, Preparing and Publishing a Book Manuscript
Department of Service Management, Lund University, 21st November 2018
Facilitators: Dianne Dredge, Johan Edelheim and Sarah Williams
Organiser: Erika Andersson Cederholm

At the TEFI conference in June, Dianne Dredge asked me if I’d be interested in taking part in an event she was putting together designed to encourage academics who are new to book publishing. Fast forward five months and I was on my way to the Helsingborg campus of Lund University to help facilitate a publishing workshop on preparing a book proposal and manuscript!

Dianne’s vision for the day centred around helping each of the 12 participants develop a book idea and we started the day by everyone sharing the titles of the book they would most like to write. The workshop was split into two parts – the morning focused on understanding the publishing process and looking at different writing strategies. Johan shared his experiences of adapting his PhD thesis into a book (the bestselling Tourist Attractions) and all it can entail – and the main points to focus on when you embark on the rewriting process. The afternoon was more interactive, when we went in-depth into developing a proposal. The ultimate outcomes for the workshop were:

  • Strategies, tips and advice.
  • Inspiration through shared experience.
  • Build your ‘keep me grounded’ network.
  • A basic template of your proposal.
  • Feedback on your ideas.
  • A plan to get you started.

 

It was great that each participant enthusiastically and openly shared their ideas, and their writing motivations and challenges. As well as explaining the publishing process to everyone, I certainly learned a lot about authors’ processes when it comes to writing – things that I will definitely bear in mind next time I’m chasing someone for a late manuscript!

For the afternoon session on developing a proposal, Dianne had prepared a Lean Book Concept Canvas (an adaptation of a business model canvas – see the beautifully-illustrated jpeg below!) The idea for this was so the participants could develop their ideas in a more organic way before starting on the proposal template guidelines.

Lean Book Concept Canvas A3 new
Lean Book Concept Canvas

The book ideas that were pitched were strong and it was useful to be there on the spot to provide guidance (for me it was like having one of our in-house editorial meetings but where authors were present for face-to-face feedback!) on things like really thinking about who your audience is and reworking the title so it gives a good idea of what the book is about.

It was a great event to be part of thanks to Dianne’s overall vision and preparation for the day and Johan’s openness in sharing his experiences and sage advice. And to Erika Andersson Cederholm’s efficient organisation – including the fika and AW – wholeheartedly appreciated!

I had time on my return via Copenhagen for a fun visit to Tivoli Gardens with Dianne and one of the workshop participants, Giang Phi – though we didn’t manage a visit to Santa Claus this time round!

 

Dianne and I would like to hold this event elsewhere in the future – so watch this space!

Welcoming Rose to the Team

In September we were very excited to welcome a new recruit to the team. Rose is our new Editorial Administrator and although she’s only been with us for a couple of months, she already feels like one of the family! In this blog post we learn a bit more about her…

What were you doing before you joined us?

Most recently I was working at The Cheltenham Literature Festival as their Programme Manager, but prior to Cheltenham, after graduating from Exeter Uni with an English Lit degree and a PGCE in Secondary English, I spent eight years in Publishing: the majority of that as an editor at HarperCollins Publishers… So, it’s really always been about the authors and their books!

What attracted you to the job?

Having had a few years ‘off’ (HA!) at home with my baby son, I couldn’t wait to return to the world of books. Being able to work in an industry I love, with like-minded people, but still be there to pick Theo up from nursery at the end of his day, feels like I’ve won the lottery.

What were your first impressions?

I was immediately struck by what a wonderfully friendly and supportive team you are; and how positive, passionate and knowledgeable you are! You seem to genuinely care hugely about the work you do, and for each other. That’s a very inspiring workplace to be in.

Do you prefer ebooks or print books? What are you reading at the moment?

Both have their place; I love the fact that I can get a book recommendation from a friend or read a review and think, ‘ooh, that sounds interesting’ and within 5 minutes it’s there on my Kindle. That is amazing. But, it’s not quite the same as, say, browsing a bookshop, the smell of ‘real’ pages, a piece of stunning cover art or lending a favourite to a friend…

I have some treasured books inscribed by authors with whom I’ve worked, and as a children’s book editor, I also worked with some incredibly talented illustrators, too. My three year old son would argue very much in favour of the printed book!

I’m currently re-reading, for the eleventy-billionth time, Flambards by KM Peyton for a hit of childhood nostalgia and Burial Rites by Hannah Kent.

Do you have a favourite book?

How can you ask me this Flo?! Absolutely impossible to pick only one, or even narrow it down to less than about 50!

But if you absolutely insist, The Little House novels by Laura Ingalls Wilder which I’ve probably re-read every year since I was seven, Remains of the Day as my ‘grown up’ choice and Polo by Jilly Cooper as my guilty secret (shhhhh).

What do you like to do when you’re not in the office?

Scuffling about in wellies, outdoors, with my husband (occasionally), our three-year-old son and our spaniel. Followed by a G&T. or 3. And a good book. Obvs.

Rose with her dog, Percy

The Benefits and Challenges of Working from Home

Over the past couple of years there has been a lot of change in our office as more members of staff have started working part time and/or from home. Elinor and Anna both work part time, some of which is from home, while Sarah, who has recently moved to Dawlish, is working full time from home with a few days a month in the office. In this post they talk about the benefits and challenges of working from home. 

Anna

Anna’s view from her home office

I work at home two days a week to fit in around the school run and cut down on commuting time. We moved house earlier in the year and I now have an actual desk, instead of using the dining table. I have a lovely view of our neighbour’s huge garden (with deer!) and the bird table. I do miss being in the office when I’m working at home – I’m excessively friendly to delivery guys and the post woman – but I can listen to music as loudly as I like without anyone tutting.

Elinor

Elinor’s view from her home office

When I returned from maternity leave earlier this year I changed from working full time to 2.5 days a week. As I don’t live in Bristol it doesn’t make sense to commute in for just 4 hours in the office so I work my half day from home. It’s a lot more peaceful working at home as there’s nobody to distract me with questions or chat about what they’ve been up to. But this is what I miss most and it’s nice to go into the office on a Thursday and Friday and catch up with everyone in person. I’m glad that I can do some of my hours at home as it makes it easier to arrange childcare and it means I can avoid spending too much time waiting for delayed trains. I certainly prefer sitting in my dining room looking out at my garden and watching the squirrels running around to being bombarded by traffic noise in the centre of Bristol.

Sarah

Sarah’s view from her home office

After 16 years of mostly working in the office, working at home almost all the time has taken some getting used to. Dawlish is a big change from Bristol but everything seems a bit slower down here which helps keep me calm when I have a lot to do (and the views help)! It’s been good for my productivity but at the same time I think having people to chat to and being in a team environment can make you feel more motivated. This is where our instant messaging has been great – it’s really useful for quick work matters but we can all chat about fun things too so the team spirit comes through even though we’re not all in the same room. I miss my lovely colleagues but I’ll still be coming into the office several times a month and I’ve been able to go to the office a few times already since I moved. It’s been nice to have a catch-up with what everyone is doing and have our usual meetings, and to get to know Rose, our newest staff member at CVP.

I just feel very lucky as it feels like I have the best of both worlds 😊

Happy 20th Anniversary to Tommi!

This month Tommi had his 20 year anniversary working for the company. In this post we ask him a few questions about the past two decades(!) of loyal service…

What was your first role at the company and what did it involve?

My first role at the company was working in subscriptions processing. In 1998 the Y2K bug was on everyone’s mind, and it became apparent that the programme that my father had developed to process subscriptions and maintain our mailing list was not Y2K compliant, and so my job was to make sure that all addresses and subscriptions were transferred to the new system.

How has the company changed over the last 20 years?

An early photo of the original team in Clevedon

Wow, well it has changed and it hasn’t. The most obvious change perhaps is that we no longer publish journals, and we publish over twice as many books per year as we did in 1998. In 1998 we had only just started publishing our journals online, and although we were using email to communicate, it was through a dial up modem that only connected to the internet once per hour. Much of our correspondence was letters delivered by our local postman, and our filing was all in paper files in filing cabinets. In 2018 all of our books are published simultaneously in print and ebook formats, we are able to work from home and connect into our files online, and there are many days in which nobody has the need to go to the post office. Although the faces have changed and I no longer work with my parents, we are still very true to the original values of the company that they started. We are committed to being a supportive company, whether that is to new authors, established senior academics, or to ourselves and our colleagues. We still all fit around a restaurant table and we remain faithful to our goal of publishing high quality books, whether they be research monographs about language acquisition, edited volumes about sustainable tourism, or guidance for parents and teachers about bringing up their children multilingually.

Do you remember your first Frankfurt Book Fair?

Yes! I visited Frankfurt first in 1998. My immediate impression was sheer incredulity as we travelled down the never-ending “via mobile” from the main entrance to Halle 8.0 where the Anglophone publishers had their exhibits. I have now been to the bookfair 21 times, and whilst it has compacted a little since my first visit, I still remain awestruck by the sheer number and range of books that are published around the world, and enthused by the number of German teenagers that choose the bookfair as their place to come and hang out, dress up in outlandish costumes, and share their love of literature.

What has been your biggest achievement/success?

The whole team at Tommi’s 20th anniversary meal

There have been many achievements and successes over the years and it is hard to single them out, but amongst the many hundreds of books we have published I remember commissioning Kate Menken’s “English Learners Left Behind” on the spot as she talked to me about her fascinating thesis. But really the achievement I am most proud of is that in an age of consolidation where the larger corporate publishers are working to hoover up the lion’s share of library budgets with the effect of homogenising research outputs into somewhat stale prescriptive formats, we are still managing to carve out our own little niche where we can continue to publish interesting work in a nurturing manner. Whilst I sometimes wonder what problems I might have on my desk when I come into the office I have never had a day when I’ve woken up and thought “I wish I didn’t have to go to work today”. I’ve worked with some of my colleagues for well over 15 years, and we have a very low staff turnover, which says to me that together we’ve succeeded in creating an environment where people feel comfortable and happy to work, and if that isn’t an achievement to be proud of then I don’t know what is!

What’s your favourite part of the job?

Oddly, these days it could very well be paying royalties. Although our royalties bill to our authors is one of the larger expense items on our accounts, and I always complain loudly to friends, colleagues, and passers-by in the street before having to sit down and manually sign cheques, it was strangely satisfying to work through the list of 478 authors that we owed royalties to in 2018, ticking them off methodically as each one was paid. As I have taken more of a managerial and finance role in the business in the last few years I feel a bit more detached from the regular contact with series editors and authors that I used to have, so paying the royalties each year reminds me of projects that I worked on years ago!

What’s your favourite place you’ve travelled to for work?

I have been lucky to travel to a good number of wonderful places, but two stand out in my memory. In second place is the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado where I attended a publishers summit organised by NetLibrary in the early days of ebook publishing. This is the hotel that Stephen King took for his inspiration for the Overlook hotel in the Shining, and the hotel took great delight in dedicating one channel on the TV to 24hr looped broadcasting of the movie. The chairs and tables in the corridors were often found in different and strange places in the morning, although whether this was a shrewd marketing ploy of the staff or something more sinister, I never found out…..

Tommi with Elinor in Kyoto

But my stand out favourite place to travel has got to be Japan. I really enjoy the ease of moving around both the country and the major cities, the food is always outstanding, the countryside beautiful, and the cities of Tokyo and Kyoto which I visit most often are so different that the contrast itself is fascinating. Our contacts at the major booksellers and importers are both friendly and professional, and so meetings are always productive.

What’s your favourite memory?

Oh crikey, what to choose from? I have worked with so many nice people over the past 20 years, both inside and outside of our office, and have a great number of happy memories of all of those people. I can’t pin down what my favourite memory is in a moment, but generally the memory of working successfully and (mostly) harmoniously with both of my parents has got to be the favourite. They taught me most of what I now know, and gave me the space and time to learn the rest myself, letting me make my own mistakes when they felt that was necessary. If I had to pick a moment it might very well be the evening when I sat with Dad in a pub in London and he tentatively suggested that perhaps I should consider coming to work with him and Mum…

Mike, Tommi’s dad, handing over the MD title
Tommi and his mum, Marjukka, in Frankfurt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s to the next 20 years!

Frankfurt Book Fair 2018 Top 10

Earlier this month Laura and Tommi headed to Germany for the annual Frankfurt Book Fair. As a company we’ve been going to the fair for nearly 40 years and those who attend are well-versed in the Frankfurt experience. With that in mind, Laura has put together a Top 10 “best of” from this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair.

Best Part of the Drive

Laura enjoying some goulash soup on the way to the book fair

In recent years we have opted to drive down to Frankfurt, which doesn’t take as long as it seems like it might! The highlight of the trip is always the final section where we drive through the beautiful Rhine valley between Koblenz and Rüdesheim. The river is beautiful, the leaves are often just starting to turn into bright autumn colours and we always stop for some tasty goulash soup. We arrive in Frankfurt fresh and ready for the busy week ahead.

Most Interesting New Contact

We’ve long done business with the library supplier Starkmann who supply academic books to libraries mainly in Europe. However, we’d not met them in person until this year. We were delighted to meet with their Managing Director, Bernard Starkmann, and discover the uncanny similarities between our two companies: both were founded in the 1970s, passed from father to son management at around the same time and have bilingual managing directors. We were also very impressed that Bernard immediately recognised the artwork on the front of our new Multilingual Matters 2018/19 catalogue.

Most Established Contact

The Frankfurt Book Fair is a time for catching up with business contacts both long-standing, new and somewhere inbetween! There are many contenders for this section but a shout-out is definitely needed for John Benjamins, a fellow publisher of academic books on applied linguistics. Every year we stop by their stand and share a drink and a catch up with Seline Benjamins and her colleagues. Like us, their staff turnover is very low (once you find a good job in publishing you know not to leave it!) so it is nice to know that there will always be familiar friendly faces at their stand.

Noisiest Drinks Reception

Most evenings there are drinks receptions in the halls of the Frankfurt Book Fair which might take place when presses are launching new books, celebrating an anniversary or just having a sociable get together. As members of the Independent Publishers’ Guild, we tend to go to their reception which this year was in collaboration with the Australian Publishers’ Association. As we approached there seemed to be a noisier than usual hubbub and we were intrigued. On arrival we discovered that rather than ordering 24 crates of beer, the Australians had actually ordered just 24 bottles! You can imagine the outrage among tired and thirsty publishers. Luckily the order was rectified later in the evening and crates arrived to much cheer!

Most Exciting New Project

Tommi and Laura at the stand

The Frankfurt Book Fair is an excellent opportunity to meet with like-minded publishers and to discuss the latest happenings and challenges surrounding academic publishing. This year we have been working hard to draw attention to the importance of rigorous peer review and are now working together with fellow university and academic publishers to create a way of recognising the high standards to which presses like ours adhere. The intention is to announce further details in January so watch this space!

 

Favourite Dinner

Hotel prices in Frankfurt are astronomical during the book fair, so we stay in the village of Eschborn just a stone’s throw from the city. Over the years we have eaten our way round most of the eateries in Eschborn and one has emerged as our real favourite – a Croatian/German restaurant called Dalmatia. They have delicious classic German dishes such as Schnitzel and Apfelstrudel (sometimes with a Croatian twist) and always have seasonal Pfifferlinge (mushrooms) on the menu. However, this year Laura was mortified to see that the small portion of Bratkartoffeln (fried potatoes) that she ordered was marked on the bill as “Seniorenteller” (old person’s plate)!

Most Memorable Quote

The Frankfurt Book Fair is sometimes a time for hearing about changes in the trade (such as acquisitions, mergers and movements of staff). Speaking to one exhibitor who has recently returned to independent publishing following a spell at a corporate company was quite telling. They said that corporate companies over-train you, overpay you and underwhelm you. That may only be a small snippet from one experience but it certainly made us even more proud of our independence.

Most Popular Book

This year we published Speaking Up by Allyson Jule which is an accessible book on understanding language and gender. The book has been written with a broader audience in mind than that of our academic books which tend to have a market specific to those working in the education or tourism spheres. The academic books were certainly as popular as ever with our traditional bookselling contacts but Allyson Jule’s new book really caught the eye of the general public when the doors were opened to them at the weekend.

Most Entertaining Story

Alongside the business side of the book fair, there is plenty of catching up between publishers and contacts and sharing of stories and gossip. Mari Bergamon from EBSCO, one of our library ebook providers, said that she believes that tragedy + time = comedy. The next day we heard the story that a children’s book publisher recently had to retract a publication in which they’d listed their website with xxx in place of the real web address, meaning to fill in the correct details before press. Unfortunately, the publication went to print before they updated the link and they very quickly had to withdraw the material when they realised readers were being directed to an x-rated website! I wonder how long it will be until that is looked back on as comedy!

Most Meetings of the Fair

Crowds outside the book fair

By the end of the fair we had attended 31 meetings, plus had numerous impromptu conversations with customers, contacts and publishers both at our stands and at various receptions. We were very happy to spend our Saturday evening with our author Greg Poarch and his family who cooked us an absolutely delicious dinner, certainly a rival to any restaurant food we’ve had this week. As much as we enjoy the fair, it is really nice to have a local contact and to spend some time talking about topics other than publishing. We hope that we were not too jaded company! Greg’s son Loic is hoping to come to Bristol in January to do some work experience with us and we are really looking forward to taking our turn at hosting.

Laura

 

For those that have never been to Frankfurt Book Fair and wonder what it’s like, last year Laura and Tommi filmed every aisle of every hall! Here’s the resultant video:

International Literacy Day 2018

8th September is International Literacy Day, a day which is celebrated annually worldwide as an occasion to promote literacy for both children and adults and highlight its importance to individuals, communities and societies. To mark it, we reflect on our own memories of learning to read…

Laura

Growing up, bedtime stories were a highlight of every evening. My sister and I had very different tastes in books and so had a complicated rota for whose turn it was to choose the story and in whose bed the story would be read! I don’t really remember when we started reading ourselves rather than being read to but I do have clear memories of having the chicken pox when I was 7 and working my way through every single Famous Five book!

Flo

Before I could actually read, I memorised Peter Rabbit and would recite the whole thing, turning the pages in a pretty convincing imitation of reading! The first books I properly read on my own were the Josie Smith books by Magdalen Nabb. I loved these so much that my mum wrote a letter to the author and actually received a handwritten reply! Magdalen was particularly taken with my name as she was living in Florence at the time – “The City of Flowers”, which she lamented was increasingly more populated by cars than flowers…

Elinor

I don’t remember the first book that I read completely on my own but I do remember the first books that I read together with my parents. We had several books from the Puddle Lane series which had a simple sentence on one page for me to read and then a more detailed paragraph on the opposite page for my mum or dad to read. They were great as I felt like I was reading on my own but still getting a full story. I also enjoyed reading books by Shirley Hughes, particularly the Alfie stories and the book Dogger. Another favourite was Burglar Bill, which I can still quote lines from now and which I look forward to reading with my son when he’s a bit older. I loved reading books (or being read to) from a young age and always looked forward to bedtime stories.

Anna

I have always loved books, but one of my main motivations when learning to read was so I could decipher the very glamorous – and not very feminist – women’s magazines that were stuffed down the legs of my mum’s leather boots in the wardrobe in my parent’s bedroom, all red lipstick and impossibly large hair. In fact I always wanted to read things I probably shouldn’t: I can remember being fascinated by Shirley Conran’s Super Woman for quite some time; most of the text meant very little to me, but here was a book entirely about grown-up, real knowledge, to be read when no-one was looking.

Tommi

Reading has always been a very important part of family life for me, and the house I grew up in and my grandparents’ house were always full of books with shelves occupying most available wall space. We would have books regularly sent over from Finland for birthday and Christmas presents, and Mum, Dad, Naini, Mummi and Vaari, along with anyone else that could be cajoled, would read to us at bedtime. Our summer holidays driving across Europe to Finland always started a week or so before departure with a visit to George’s bookshop in Bristol, so we could select the books to keep us occupied in the back seat. I’ve written about Muumipeikko ja Pyrstötähti (Comet in Moominland) being one of the first books I remember reading on my own for a post on World Book Day so I won’t say any more about that here. The first book that I remember getting in “trouble” for reading was JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit. It was the classic story of a young child not realising that his parents could see the hunched shape and the torchlight visible through the blanket that seems so funny in hindsight. Dad later admitted that he would always let me “get away with it” for half an hour or so before telling me it was really time for lights out… I cannot imagine a life without the pleasure of reading, and a love of books must surely be one of the greatest gifts you can give any child.

Find out more about International Literacy Day on UNESCO’s website.

Destination Dawlish: A Change of Location for our Head of Production

It’s all change in the MM/CVP office as Sarah, our Head of Production and Commissioning Editor of Channel View titles, is about to move back to her beloved hometown of Dawlish and will be working mostly from home from now on, with monthly visits to the office. We will really miss her and are very sad not to be seeing her on a daily basis. In this post we find out how she’s feeling about the big move…

What will you miss most about coming into the office every day?

My super wonderful colleagues/work family! 😊 We have a lot of fun in the office – I will miss Fridays especially when everyone is in with cakes/doughnuts and Spotify playlists. But will try to come up to Bristol for at least one Friday a month. I’ve worked with everyone (some longer than others!) for a number of years so I’m trying to prepare myself not to see their faces every day – it will be strange and not a welcome thought!

What will you miss about living in Bristol?

It’s a great city to live in – and I will miss many things about city life (including Uber and Deliveroo!) But for Bristol the street art and balloons will be missed. Just lucky I still get to visit regularly.

What are you most looking forward to about moving to Dawlish?

Being back with my crazy-big family will be lovely – and living by the sea again will be ace. I’ve missed it!

What do you think will be the biggest difference working mostly from home?

Well, there will be no-one forced to listen to my wittering apart from me so I will be monitoring sanity levels regularly 😊 I guess just the feeling of togetherness. Thankful for instant messaging though – should make it easier to stay in touch with colleagues and ask quick questions when necessary. Looking forward to sometimes working in my PJs if I feel like it – never felt it was appropriate in the office 🙂

Will you be bringing us scones on a monthly basis?

Of course! But you really have to put jam on first (even though it’s the Cornish way) and pronounce ‘scone’ properly.

Dawlish

We wish Sarah the best of luck with the move and are already looking forward to our first away day in Dawlish!

We Speak Up: Firsthand Experiences of Gendered Language

This month we were very excited to publish Speaking Up by Allyson Jule – a book that looks at how language use and related ideas about gender play out in the home, workplace and online. In this post the MM team considers their own experiences with language and gender.

Elinor

One of the most frustrating thing about sexist language is that it is so ingrained in people’s everyday speech that they are often completely unaware of the significance and implications of the words they use. One word that particularly infuriates me is that of ‘manning’ a stand. As we attend conferences a lot and the majority of our staff is female I really take objection when people use the verb ‘to man.’ While many people wouldn’t necessarily be offended by it, I feel that it is very easy to use the word ‘staffing’ instead which removes the gender connotation completely.

Another issue that I often face is that of titles. Frequently, I am asked whether I’m ‘Miss’ or ‘Mrs’ and when I reply ‘neither’ people are sometimes confused. I’m glad that the term ‘Ms’ exists in English so that I have an alternative to Miss and Mrs but I really don’t see why women should be forced to use a title to denote their marital status when men do not. As a married woman who hasn’t taken my husband’s name, neither Miss or Mrs is correct but I still find Ms is not an option that is always available or that everyone even understands. I would be happy if we did away with titles completely as in my mind it only confuses people and creates an impression of inequality between the sexes.

Tommi

The recent publication of Speaking Up has given me a few moments to pause and reflect on my own use of language in my professional life, and how this might be seen by other people. One of the habits that I have been trying to train myself out of for years has been referring to my female colleagues collectively as “the girls”….

The term arose years ago when we had a larger office, and the majority of the staff and directors were tending closer to retirement age. We had a new intake of younger staff members, who happened to be women. Often my mum, Marjukka Grover, then editorial director, would say something like “are the girls coming to lunch?”. The term stuck, and was a lighthearted way of referring to a group of colleagues and distinguishing the younger ones from the older ones.

Fast forward 15 years, and those “girls” are now Editorial Director, Head of Production and Head of Marketing themselves, and have been joined by another two extremely capable women. They all know very well that I have the utmost respect for them, and that without them this business would be in desperate trouble. I manage mostly to refer to them outside the office as “my colleagues”, but every now and again, usually when we are talking about something social rather than business related, I’ll call them “the girls” and I’ll kick myself for doing it. Will I ever be able to train myself completely out of this habit? I doubt it, although I am getting better, and since one of my colleagues recently commented that she really hates that term, I will try even harder in the future. If any of you catch me using the term, please feel free to challenge me!

Anna

At 20 weeks pregnant with my elder daughter, I’d just found out at a scan that everything was ok with the baby, and that she was a girl. I decided to buy some baby clothes to mark the occasion, and so I took myself to Mothercare to buy some vests and sleepsuits. It was like stepping into another world – the baby clothes were rigidly divided by gender, pink for girls and blue for boys (my mum bought a set of blue sleepsuits with penguins on them for my daughter to the absolute horror of the shop assistant, who kept trying to tell her she was making a mistake). The ‘boy’ clothes encouraged boys to do things – drive tractors, fly planes, run fast – or be the boss. The ‘girl’ clothes encouraged baby girls to aspire to be princesses or defined them in relation to other people or how they looked: there were racks and racks of ‘Daddy’s Little Cutie’ vests, or ‘I’m so Pretty’ tops. Having lived up to that point in a feminist bubble, it was a rude awakening to discover that messages about gender equality are still something you have to work hard to instil in your children, in the face of prevailing culture.

My daughter is now nearly 7, and it’s clear that some of her contemporaries, brought up on these messages, have internalised and now believe them. One of her friends was told recently by a classmate that she wasn’t a proper girl as she prefers shorts to summer dresses and enjoys sports. The gradual drip, drip of these judgements hurts both girls and boys, men and women, and it turns out that the stereotyping starts at birth, if not before.

Flo

In our office I’m usually the one who answers the phone when it rings and I’m happy to be gatekeeper if needs be. However, we’ve noticed that when answering a cold call, I am often assumed to be a receptionist (I was even referred to as “just the receptionist” by one cold caller), with no authority, knowledge of the business, or decision-making power. Not only is this very insulting to genuine receptionists (surely it’s a mistake to get off on the wrong foot with the person who has access to the entire company), but as we’ve noticed that when Tommi (or for that matter, a male intern) happens to be the one who answers the phone, he is never taken for a receptionist, it could be argued that it’s an assumption based on my voice being identifiable as a young woman’s. Where I would be fielding question after question about who is in charge of accounts or how do I know my boss isn’t interested (I can see him from my desk waving his arms ‘no’), callers generally seem to accept being dismissed in the first instance by a man.

For more information about Speaking Up please see our website

TEFI conference, Lapland, 3-6 June 2018

I have been hoping to go to a TEFI (Tourism Education Futures Initiative) conference for a few years but hadn’t managed it until this year when I made it to #TEFI10, hosted by the University of Lapland in Pyhätunturi, Finland.

This conference experience was definitely worth the wait. TEFI has a real family feel to it and it was lovely to see how supportive and encouraging everyone is of each other and how welcome new delegates (and publishers!) were made to feel. The conference theme was ‘Knowing with Nature – The Future of Tourism Education in the Anthropocene’ so a lot of the conference was spent outdoors and only vegan food was served.

DSC_1512
Post-keynote discussion

The opening keynote was delivered outdoors by Gunnar Thor Jóhannesson, which was quite the feat as it was pretty chilly and a bit damp – a good getting-to-know-you session for delegates as we were all huddled together for warmth! 🙂

Over the next two days followed five sessions of absorbing papers and another really good keynote, this time from Tijana Rakić, and both days offered the chance to get out in the forest. The first day there was a yoga in nature session and the second day there was an afternoon hike. The walk was interspersed with panel discussions, including a great talk from Seija Tuulentie about PoLut, a project aimed at actively encouraging immigrants to come and settle in Lapland – which was great to hear. The hikes were an amazing opportunity to experience the Finnish landscape (while learning!). It was beautiful and a really nice memory for us all to take away with us. The conference closed with breakout sessions to reflect on what we had learned during the conference and how best we can all enact TEFI values in our own work.

While I was in Finland I managed to visit a few places, and from Helsinki I got the ferry to Tallinn and enjoyed wandering round the Old Town (the return ferry karaoke was also something to behold). Post-TEFI some of the conference delegates stayed the night in Rovaniemi and the next day we felt that as Santa Claus Village was on the way to the airport it would be rude not to go and meet the man himself. So exciting!! 🙂

I’m really glad that I finally got to a TEFI conference and am grateful to all of the organisers and Dianne Dredge and Johan Edelheim for a great conference experience. I am looking forward to TEFI11!

Sarah

Flo’s Trip to ICFSLA 2018 in Szczyrk, Poland

Last week I attended the 30th annual International Conference on Foreign and Second Language Acquisition (ICFSLA) conference in Szczyrk, Poland. This conference is well-loved by those who’ve attended regularly over the years, and upon arrival I was struck by how welcoming everyone was and what a warm and friendly atmosphere the organisers had created, despite the unseasonably chilly, rainy May weather!

As Multilingual Matters hadn’t been to this conference since 2015, the delegates seemed pleased to see us and find that they could actually buy the books we were displaying. Our SLA series was so popular among the conference-goers that a few of them assumed that was the name of the publisher, not realising it was just one of a number of our series! Alongside the SLA books, the first book in our new PLLT series, Language Teacher Psychology (coedited by Sarah Mercer and Achilleas Kostoulas), was a particular favourite, selling out on the first day.

David Singleton giving his plenary

The theme of this year’s conference was “Identity in Second Language Acquisition and Foreign Language Learning” and I was able to take some time out from manning my stand to go to the plenaries by our authors and series editors Rod Ellis, David Singleton, Sarah Mercer and Simone Pfenninger. Topics discussed included social identity and language development in study abroad, bi-/multilingual communication and identity, language teacher identity and third age identity, and it was nice to have the opportunity to see our authors in action!

Apart from a packed programme of plenaries and sessions, the conference organisers also put on some great entertainment in the evenings. First up was an “Evening of Memories” in which ICFSLA enthusiasts past, present and regretfully absent reminisced (some by audio/video!) about the past 30 years, accompanied by a slideshow of ICFSLA conferences gone by, and with many fond memories of the late Janusz Arabski, the conference’s founder.  A special surprise was saved for the last night, when, following the conference dinner, we all trooped up to the bar, where the conference organisers had arranged a concert by Polish a cappella sea shanty band, Banana Boat. The band was brilliant, and somehow I found myself singing along, despite most of the songs being in Polish! The disco at the end of the night rounded off the conference nicely, with some serious dance moves being exhibited well into the early hours.

Flo