How NOT to get promotion for yourself and your book …

A few nice guidelines for author etiquette. I do disagree with the point at the end that says that if you think your book is good then therefore it is not.  There is a difference between self confidence and arrogance.  Believe in yourself, believe in your work while communicating humility and gratitude.

How NOT to get promotion for yourself and your book ….

Repost: Voice may reveal who has clout

Yesterday I blogged a link to Richard Mann’s Radio Reflections which he not only presented, but produced as well.  So it seems fitting that today I should repost a report on some fascinating research, much of it done in the UK, on how our voices reflect social status and power — and perhaps why Margaret Thatcher was able to lead so effectively.


Voice May Reveal Who Has Clout
Be­ing in a po­si­tion of pow­er can change the sound of your voice, and lis­ten­ers of­ten pick up on that to fig­ure out who is really in charge, new re­search finds.

We tend to fo­cus on our words when we want to come across as pow­erful, but the find­ings sug­gest acous­tic cues are al­so im­por­tant. Mark­ers of more pow­erful po­si­tion, for ex­am­ple, may in­clude a higher and louder voice.

“Whether it’s par­ents at­tempt­ing to as­sert au­thor­ity over un­ruly chil­dren, hag­gling be­tween a car sales­man and cus­tom­er, or ne­gotia­t­ions be­tween heads of states, the sound of the voices in­volved may pro­foundly de­ter­mine the out­come of those in­ter­ac­tions,” said lead re­searcher Sei Jin Ko of San Die­go State Uni­vers­ity in Ca­li­for­nia.

It was form­er U.K. prime min­is­ter Mar­ga­ret That­cher who in­spired the re­search. “It was quite well known that That­cher had gone through ex­ten­sive voice coach­ing to ex­ude a more au­thoritative, pow­erful per­sona,” ex­plained Ko. “We wanted to ex­plore how some­thing so fun­da­men­tal as pow­er might elic­it changes in the way a voice sounds, and how these situa­t­ional vo­cal changes im­pact the way lis­ten­ers per­ceive and be­have to­ward the speak­ers.”

Ko, along with Mel­o­dy Sadler of San Die­go State and Ad­am Galin­sky of Co­lum­bia Busi­ness School, de­signed two stud­ies to find out. The findings were pub­lished Nov. 20 online in the jour­nal Psy­cho­log­i­cal Sci­ence.

In a first ex­pe­ri­ment, the investigators recorded 161 col­lege stu­dents read­ing a pas­sage aloud; this first re­cord­ing cap­tured their voice be­fore any par­tic­u­lar high-or-low pow­er sta­tus was ev­i­dent. The par­ti­ci­pants were then ran­domly as­signed a high- or low-sta­tus role in a ne­gotia­t­ion game.

Stu­dents as­signed to a “high” rank were told to go in­to the ne­gotia­t­ion im­ag­in­ing that they ei­ther had a strong al­ter­na­tive of­fer, val­u­a­ble in­side in­forma­t­ion, or high sta­tus in the work­place, or they were asked to re­call an ex­perience in which they had pow­er be­fore the ne­gotia­t­ion started. Low-rank stu­dents, on the oth­er hand, were told to im­ag­ine they had ei­ther a weak of­fer, no in­side in­forma­t­ion, or low work­place sta­tus, or they were asked to re­call an ex­perience in which they lacked pow­er.

The stu­dents then read a sec­ond pas­sage aloud, as if they were lead­ing off ne­gotia­t­ions with their im­ag­i­nary ad­ver­sary, and their voices were recorded. Eve­ry­one read the same open­ing, al­low­ing the re­search­ers to ex­am­ine acous­tics while hold­ing the speech con­tent the same.

The re­search­ers found that the voices of stu­dents as­signed to high-pow­er roles tended to go up in pitch, be­come less var­i­a­ble in pitch, and be­come more var­i­a­ble in loud­ness than the oth­ers’ voices.

“A­maz­ingly, pow­er af­fect­ed our par­ti­ci­pants’ voices in al­most the ex­act same way that That­cher’s voice changed af­ter her vo­cal train­ing,” said Galin­sky.

And the stu­dents’ vo­cal cues did­n’t go un­no­ticed. A sec­ond ex­pe­ri­ment with a sep­a­rate group of col­lege stu­dents re­vealed that lis­ten­ers, who had no knowl­edge of the first ex­pe­ri­ment, were able to pick up on these pow­er-related vo­cal cues to de­ter­mine who did and did not have pow­er: Lis­ten­ers ranked speak­ers who had been as­signed to the high-rank group as more likely to en­gage in high-pow­er be­hav­iors, and they were able to cat­e­go­rize wheth­er a speak­er had high or low rank with con sidera­ble ac­cu­ra­cy.

In line with the vo­cal changes ob­served in the first ex­pe­ri­ments, lis­ten­ers tended to as­so­ci­ate high­er pitch and voices that var­ied in loud­ness with high-pow­er be­hav­iors. They al­so as­so­ci­ated louder voices with high­er pow­er.

“These find­ings sug­gest that lis­ten­ers are quite per­cep­tive to these sub­tle varia­t­ions in vo­cal cues and they use these cues to de­cide who is in charge,” said Galin­sky.



Richard Mann’s Radio Reflections — and my response

Hello everyone.  Happy Hanukkah!

Boudicca audio coverIf you follow this blog regularly, you know this year was very special for me as an author, especially after joining Amazon’s audio book publishing platform called ACX in April, right about the time I started really promoting my latest release, Boudicca:  Britain’s Queen of the Iceni.  Roughly two months after publication a moment of inspiration told me to post Boudicca to ACX for audio production.

That proved to be one of the best decisions of my life, though I had no way of knowing it at the time.  That morning I listened to six or seven potential narrators, ACX messaging about half of them requesting they audition.  Richard Mann was the first to respond — and obviously the best.  A teleconference the next morning confirmed that choice and that week Boudicca was off and running.  On 9th September the book was live on audible to my great delight.


In that time I learned a lot more about the narrator I so casually chose that May morning, discovering a fascinating new world of theatre, music, and performance that re-awakened parts of myself long buried by the harsh criticisms of blood relatives, bullies at school, and failed relationships.  That included my passion for live theatre and that secret yearning to try acting a bit, if only for a few minutes of play around friends.  In discovering Richard Mann’s work I discovered many things about myself along the way.


This morning a tweet from Mr. Mann, no doubt sent as casually as my initial invitation to him to audition for Boudicca, had a similar and rather profound impact. In the tweet was a link to Radio Reflections which includes a three minute simulated radio segment featuring Richard Mann and others talking about the role radio has played across their lives.  Take a listen to it and you are transported in ways that perhaps regular radio listeners find rather mundane but for me has been quite revealing.


I love people to get me really thinking about things; it is not that easy to do, anymore than it is easy for anyone or anything to really impress me or win much praise from me.  I am very reserved in that regard.  So when I say that these three minutes are worth listening to, they really are.


Any what, pray tell, are my thoughts now I have heard this?


The first thing that really strikes me is the social psychology of the radio.  That is to say that my response to the radio has more to do with the people across my life who have loved listening to the radio and how I feel about them and the way they treated me.  The first person I knew who loved the radio was John W. Rockefeller, my “father” (I put this in scare quotes because no real father treats any living creature, least of all his own daughter, so viciously and without any regard for basic human morality).  The music played to me as a pre-schooler was bad country music.

In the 1980s, my older brother Keith also shaped my interest in the radio, especially as his bullying intensified as teenagers.  Mid-1980s pop was quite good and to this day I still love 1980s music — but Keith’s love of the radio, like his love of the American civil war, instilled a rebellious response from me.  Why should I listen to the radio when I could practice the piano (acquired thanks to money my mother received during the 1984 divorce) or sing myself?

Indeed recent research into traumatic brain injuries such as the one I suffered at 13 show that music production and music psychotherapy is one of the most effective means for helping the brain heal from TBI.  Singing and playing myself helped my brain re-wire and adjust which is perhaps one reason why two years after the accident, my grades surpassed pre-accident levels.

Unlike so many people, I therefore never really grew up around the radio.  In university, study consumed my time which grew even more scarce once my remaining sight could no longer keep up with the homework created by three social science and humanities majors and I shifted to taped textbooks played on a special machine from the Nebraska library for the blind.  Rather than listening to the radio, audio books came to consume my life as I successfully worked through my studies.  The first audio book I listened to for fun was huge — about 40 recorded hours — “Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo!  And no, the musical (French or English; I’ve heard both) does not do justice to the book!


But for all of this, I do see value to the radio; it was after all a radio program called “TechBytes” that brought me into one of the closest and most healthy friendships of my life.   To this day TechBytes host Tim Wilson is the brother that my biological brother should have always been but never chose to be.  Tim and his technology radio show has taught me that family is not about blood, but about the heart and spirit.


That is the magic of radio.

Repost: Men’s Y Chromosome May Be A Vulnerability

Reposted from “Men’s Y Chromosome May Be A Vulnerability” 


4th December 2014, World Science Journal

New re­search sug­gests the Y chro­mo­some—a re­pos­i­tory of genes that only males have—may help ex­plain why men live less long than wom­en, and are more sus­cep­ti­ble to smok­ing-related can­cers.

With ad­vanc­ing age, some cells can lose their Y chro­mo­some. Two new studies sug­gest this loss may in­crease can­cer risk—and that smok­ing may ex­ac­er­bate the chro­mo­some loss. Both pro­jects came from the same group of re­search­ers, and while they did not prove cause-and-ef­fect rela­t­ion­ships, they found as­socia­t­ions be­tween the events in ques­tion.

The ear­li­er stu­dy, pub­lished in the re­search jour­nal Na­ture Ge­net­ics on­line April 28, “demon­strated an as­socia­t­ion be­tween loss of the Y chro­mo­some in blood and great­er risk for can­cer,” said Lars Fors­berg of Upp­sa­la Uni­vers­ity in Swe­den, one of the in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

For the sec­ond proj­ect, pub­lished in the Dec. 4 is­sue of the re­search jour­nal Sci­ence, he added that the group tested “if there were any lifestyle- or clin­i­cal fac­tors that could be linked to loss of the Y chro­mo­some.”

The re­sult: “Out of a large num­ber of fac­tors that were stud­ied, such as age, blood pres­sure, di­a­be­tes, al­co­hol in­take and smok­ing, we found that loss of the Y chro­mo­some in a frac­tion of the blood cells was more com­mon in smok­ers than in non-smok­ers.”

Y chro­mo­some loss is “the most com­mon hu­man muta­t­ion” to beg­in with, added Jan Du­man­ski, a co-re­searcher at Upp­sa­la. The new work “may in part ex­plain why men in gen­er­al have a shorter life span than wom­en, and why smok­ing is more dan­ger­ous for men.”

Smok­ing is a risk fac­tor for var­i­ous dis­eases, not only lung can­cer, the re­search­ers not­ed; male smok­ers have shown a great­er risk of de­vel­op­ing non-respiratory-tract can­cers than female smok­ers.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tors found the as­socia­t­ion be­tween smok­ing and Y chro­mo­some loss to be “dose de­pen­den­t”—heavy smok­ers had more wide­spread losses. But ex-smok­ers who had quit showed nor­mal lev­els of Y chro­mo­some loss. So “this pro­cess might be re­versible,” which “could be very per­sua­sive for mo­ti­vat­ing smok­ers to quit,” said Fors­berg.

How the smok­ing-induced Y chro­mo­some loss in blood cells is linked to can­cer re­mains un­clear. Per­haps im­mune cells in blood, be­reft of Y chro­mo­somes, are less able to fight can­cer cells, the sci­en­tists spec­u­lat­ed.

Not so innocent: Israel, genocide, and the myth of the “chosen people”

Growing up in Lincoln, Nebraska and attending Temple Baptist Church, I grew up with the same beliefs that many Evangelical Christians hold towards Israel:  Israel is the promised land of the descendants of Abraham.  When I read in the books of Joshua and Judges about the legendary conquest of Palestine by the Hebrews after their 40 years wandering in the wilderness, no one seemed to even notice that these military campaigns of conquest amounted to GENOCIDE where civilians, including and especially women and children, were put to the sword so the Hebrews could come in and take their land.  This was GOD’S WILL and therefore it was okay.  If God wants it, the killing is moral and just, right?

In my 20 years in the Church, no one ever questioned this doctrine.  No one ever said “hey, wait, these are war crimes.”  Instead since it was divinely mandated, it must be right — and historically true, of course.

This sentiment is echoed in temples, both reform and orthodox, especially at Hanukkah and Passover.  Israel belongs to the Jews as a right forged in an ancient covenant with God.  Jews are the Chosen People.

Being the “Chosen People” of God carries a lot of weight.  Being chosen means you are granted a measure of special grace from God, the right to do certain things without consequences.  You can kill as you please because God wants you to.

Now before anyone gets in a huff and calls me anti-Jewish, let me be very clear:  I love Jewish culture, food, tradition, and especially my many Jewish friends and acquaintances.  I lived for over four years in a orthodox Jewish neighbourhood in Brooklyn, New York as not only a gentile, but one of the Old Religion of Britain and Ireland who strives to honour and embrace the British-Irish part of my heritage in my day-t0-day life.

As a historian who often favours being the outsider because of the objectivity this offers me for learning and study, I was able to listen, learn, and observe without the social-psychological chains that often blurs most people’s perspective.  I have no agenda except discovering the truth.  This is why my writing is so powerful and my books are to be believed.  I’m not a slick politician or sales person trying to sell something to you; just an honest researcher looking for truth.

The Bible of course covers ancient history — legendary or literal is a matter of debate.  Yet in Christian churches and in many Jewish congregations as well this doctrine that Israel is the God-given promised land of the Hebrews/Jews persists.

This Zionist idea that Israel rightfully belongs to Jews transcends denominational differences and enters the realm of politics.  Israel has certain rights to behave in whatever is perceived as its own interests.  To gainsay Israel’s decisions is to be anti-Jewish.  I am here to say that nothing could be further from the truth.

Last week I found the above video in a facebook feed exploring the modern state of Israel’s history.  In it and you discover that Israel is hardly this innocent and moral God-blessed nation who can do no wrong.  Far from it.  Objectively speaking, the Israelis are guilty of genocide and war crimes such as the West typically condemns when done by any other nation — except Israel.

Indeed anyone from any country who even remotely questions what Israel does is quickly labelled as anti-Jewish, especially politicians.  It would seem that to be pro-Jewish means not noticing Israel’s faults — or its war crimes.


I stand here asking you to now question that dogma.  Take a step back towards objectivity. When Iraqis do this to its peoples, when Syrians do this in its civil war, when Russia treats a minority group this way, DO WE NOT CALL THEM WAR CRIMES and CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY?


Perhaps it is time to abolish this whole “chosen people” propaganda and instead look at all human beings as humans.  No one is expendable.  Life is life!  Every single human in this world deserves a decent and safe home, clean and nourishing food and water, the best possible education, decent clothing, safety from harm, and the chance to live a satisfying life.  Anyone who steals any of these things from anyone else needs to be sanctioned and dealt with.  Everyone has the right to live.  Everyone.

Character Profile: Landry Lilyanne Albright

Series the character belongs to (if any): First book in the True Colors series

True ColorsCharacter name: Landry Lilyanne Albright

Parents names (if known): Dr. Tony and Laine (Dombrowski) Albright

Place of Birth (if known): Chicago, Illinois

Book(s) appearing in: True Colors, True Colors 2: Best Friends…Forever?

Profile: Landry is an eighth grader who loves her English lit class with Mrs. Kharrazzi and enjoys reading. She is a very loyal friend, but is currently dealing with the friendship fall out from advancing in the American Ingénue reality show modeling competition. She is on a never-ending quest for a hair product that will end her bad hair days and ways to up her math grade that don’t involve intense tutoring.

Ideal actor or actress to play in a film adaptation: Over the years I’ve pictured Landry as Ashlee Simpson when Ashlee was doing her reality show. Now I’d say Elle Fanning could play her.

Character Profile: Christina Ciccone

The Last Vestal Virgin

Character name: Christina Ciccone

Parents names: Helen and Salvatore Ciccone

Character’s Date of Birth: 1996

Place of Birth: Struthers, Ohio

Book appearing in: The Last Vestal Virgin

Profile: Christina hails from an Italian –American family. She is eighteen, tall with long brown highlighted-hair. Her hazel eyes are brilliant with flecks of gold. She has modeled for several fashion shoots. She has known to turn many heads. She is passionate for World History and plans on being a history major while attending  Youngstown State University.

 Ideal actor or actress to play in a film adaptation: Selena Gomez.