Cut the blarney, guys; we’ve heard it all before

Today I am going to deviate from my normal topics and touch upon that age old subject of women, men, and romance.  The catalyst for this is a recent series of Facebook interactions where, once again, a complete stranger messaged me telling me:

Laurel i really don’t know you, but looking at your profile and picture, I must say your the most beautiful woman i have ever seen and you also remind me of my ex who passed away peacefully from cancer…… Hope we could be friends if you don’t mind…you must be as young as 28 don’t know but if am wrong, please tell me. What’s the secret to your beauty?

Twenty years after airing on the BBC, women still love Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle as Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett in "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austin, a novel where good manners and integrity win out over flattery and deceit.

Twenty years after airing on the BBC, women still love Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle as Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austin, a novel where good manners and integrity win out over flattery and deceit.

In essence, this is a variation on a tried and true pickup line routine.  Tell a woman she’s beautiful, tell her she looks younger than she obviously is, and abracadabra you’ve just had a magical night of hot and heavy sex rivaling the contents of a best selling erotica novel and with absolutely no obligation to see her after breakfast.

For some reason that escapes me, men actually think this works.  It’s a routine I hear at least four times per month on social media and (for some bizare reason) on skype, usually from men serving in one of the branches of the US armed forces.

There is nothing of course in this that gives a woman ANY reason to respond.  Okay, you gave a generic complement that may or may not be sincere and you are actually delusional enough to think it’s flattery.  The sheer fact you exist and said the words “pretty,” “beautiful,” “young,” or “sexy” is supposed to be enough for us to 1) want to talk to you, 2) be massively interested in everything about you, and 3) immediately do for you a strip tease resulting in a nice one night stand.

Really?  And you expect women to take you seriously? This is egotism and it’s based apparently on the fantasy that anyone with a functioning penis is good enough for a woman, that she owes you sex any time you want just because you can get blood flowing down there.

Newsflash guys:  you are not the only male with a functioning penis. The fact you have one (every male does) is not a reason to interact with you for five seconds, let alone have sex with you, especially if you are a stranger.  Furthermore, every woman over the age of 25 has heard this lame blarney before, perhaps even fallen for it when she was too young to know better, especially if she came from a conservative family where her parents and her religious community treated the proper functioning of the human body as dirty and taboo.

In my 20s I fell for the blarney, in large part because I received no guidance growing up beyond "don't have sex before marriage."

In my 20s I fell for the blarney, in large part because I received no guidance growing up beyond “don’t have sex before marriage.”

Indeed, I will affirm that women from conservative backgrounds are more vulnerable to sexual manipulation from men simply because our parents don’t offer constructive guidance beyond “don’t have sex until you are married.”  No wonder lazy men target American women; women in America are so much less likely to be provided with proper sex education and proper guidance on how to spot blarney and predatory sexual conduct.

But past a certain age women, even American women, learn to spot the blarney.  We learn that flattery has but one purpose:  exploitation.  We learn to be skeptical of any man offering a complement, especially when it is about our bodies.  We have difficulty enough believing we are beautiful.  So when you tell us, as the chap this week did, that we are the most beautiful woman you have ever seen, we know at once you are lying.  Very few of us look like the standard of beauty we are given in the media.  So don’t tell us we meet that standard; we don’t.  We’re real women, not photo-shopped fantasies.

But let us suppose for a moment that you really do find someone attractive.  You genuinely want to get to know her — not just how she feels naked in the dark.  What should you do?

RESEARCH HER.  Approach her from a stance of common ground. Find something on social media that is genuinely a common interest and start by asking her about it.  For example, “what do you think about the latest poll numbers showing Bernie Sanders surging ahead of Hillary Clinton in (insert state name here)?” or “what do you think about the latest film starring (insert favourite actor here)?”

When you approach her from a stand point of common interest you are showing 1) you like her enough to spend a few minutes learning about her on your own time and 2) you are interested in who she actually is and what she actually thinks.

Gone are the days when “hey baby, you’re hot; let’s have sex” will work with grown women.  Women are more intelligent, better educated, and much more civilized than that.  Despite what you might have seen in the entertainment industry, women are actually quite picky about sexual partners — as females across nature tend to be.  Just look at what most male birds have to go through in order to woo their way into relationships!  It’s lady’s choice, guys and you have to offer more to us than simply a functioning penis.  Because we really don’t care yours work, especially if you are a rude, egotistical bore.  Given the choice between your egotism and a man of good manners and courtesy, we will take the well mannered and humble gentleman every time.

Take a chance and trust

Trust is the foundation of all relationships — personal, financial, and professional.  If you want people to patronize your business then you must convince prospective customers that they can trust you.  If you want someone to vote for you or your political cause, they must trust you and what you are telling them about the issues and the state of affairs in the world.  If you want to build friendships, or find romance in your life you must trust other people and prove yourself trustworthy in return — even in casual situations where perhaps all you are looking for is personal sexual gratification.  Trust is at the heart of all of this.

Many times I’ve been asked the question “what is the line between faith and gullibility?” I could never answer that question because I really do not know.  Perhaps the answer to that can never be known in the present, but only by looking at the past and thinking about the choices we make through the distance of time.

Trustworthiness is a major reason why Bernie Sanders now leads in the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Trustworthiness is a major reason why Bernie Sanders now leads in the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire.

But what I do know is that the person who never trusts and is never trustworthy achieves and gains absolutely nothing. To live is to risk.  To play it safe is to be trapped in loneliness and depravity.  Yes you might get hurt.  You might get cheated.  You may choose badly and not realize it for a long time.

All you can do is your best.  Live your life with integrity.  Earn the trust of those around you.  Give people the benefit of the doubt until they prove unworthy.  I would far rather trust and connect with people than not trust and live alone and isolated.

Take that chance and trust.  The rewards are worthwhile.

Repost: Book Pricing Tips

The following just arrived in my email from Book Marketing Tools.  I think it contains excellent analysis and information.


reviews help authorsBook Pricing Tips
Many self-published authors tend to price themselves out of sales.
This happens because:
1) You know how much time you spent to write the book, time or money spent on editing, time or money spent on the cover, time spent on learning to self-publish, plus the priceless view you have of your own work (rightfully so), all which combine to make you put a higher price tag on your book,
2) Self-publishers aren’t making many sales, so they often price their book higher to earn more per sale since their sales are infrequent. We get that… but we’ve always been a proponent of the fact that you can sell more books with a lower price, and while you’ll earn less per book, you will make more in aggregate than you would with a higher price book.
Now we have proof, with numbers directly from Amazon!
Amazon is usually pretty guarded with their stats. They don’t share much, but they recently shared some numbers regarding book sales at different price ranges here.
Here is the quote relevant to book pricing:
“It’s also important to understand that e-books are highly price-elastic. This means that when the price goes up, customers buy much less. We’ve quantified the price elasticity of e-books from repeated measurements across many titles. For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99. So, for example, if customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular e-book at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 copies of that same e-book at $9.99. Total revenue at $14.99 would be $1,499,000. Total revenue at $9.99 is $1,738,000. The important thing to note here is that at the lower price, total revenue increases 16%. This is good for all the parties involved.”
This is directly from the largest marketplace in the world, who specializes in ebooks. How much clearer can it get?
Sure, we would all love to sell at $14.99 or even $9.99, but that’s not the reality for the self-published author. But, you can still make good money selling at $0.99, $1.99, $2.99. Especially for the new author, with so much competition out there, you don’t want price to be the reason people aren’t willing to give you and your books a shot.
Once you have a strong following of readers who love your books and want to buy more (you’re building that mailing list, right?), then, you can experiment with $3.99, $4.99, even $5.99. Many self-published authors are now able to command those prices, but they were not always able to sell their books for those prices. If you try to start at that price, for whatever reason, and you have very few reviews and hardly any fans, you’re going to continue to not sell many books, and you will earn less than you would with a lower price point.
Your goal is to reach as many readers as possible, and to get them to want to buy every other book you come out with in the future. The bigger fan base you are able to build now, the easier it will be to sell books in the future with every new book you write.
Get people in the door with a lower price, build a readership, get them to fall in love with you and your books, THEN price your books higher.
Here’s to selling more books!
-Shawn & R.J. from Book Marketing Tools

Donald Trump and What “Conservative” Really Means

trump-768x512If you live in the United States you are probably already sick and tired about hearing about the campaign deciding who will be the next president of the United States.  As a matter of fact odds are good you have now heard the name “Trump” even more times than you have heard another name I never want to hear again — KARDASHIAN.  Yes we are over-saturated with reality TV stars — which is exactly what “The Donald” actually is.

Across 2015 we’ve been treated to a renewed and very vocal outcry of white power, anti-immigrant sentiment (let’s include Britain’s UKIP party here).  Trump’s obstinate rudeness in the name of not being “politically correct” has ended all pretenses of civility and human decency as thousands flock to hear and echo his race baiting and misogyny, messages that are designed to put the rest of us in our “proper” place.

Respected journalist Jorge Ramos confronting Trump on his immigration policies on 26 Aug 2015.

Respected journalist Jorge Ramos confronting Trump on his immigration policies on 26 Aug 2015.

Sadly Trump is not alone in his spiteful and scapegoating rhetoric.  As reported this week in The Guardian, other GOP contenders including Ben Carson have joined the racist Trump bandwagon, railing against racial minorities.  Those that have not expressed blazoned racism have joined Trump in their sexist, including many recent remarks by Jeb Bush.  All of this designed to appeal to their conservative vote base.

Which begs the question, “what exactly are they trying to preserve?”

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines conservative as

“Believing in the value of established and traditional practices in politics and society : relating to or supporting political conservatism. of or relating to the conservative party in countries like the United Kingdom and Canada: not liking or accepting changes or new ideas.”

What are these ideas then?  What is Trump trying to take us back to in order to “make America great again?”

June Cleaver on Leave It To Beaver was the ideal 1950s woman.

June Cleaver on Leave It To Beaver was the ideal 1950s woman.

Sadly I think what he wants is to bring America back to the 1950s, a time when women were fired from the jobs they held in support of the war effort of the 1940s in order to return to their “proper” place as wives and mothers.  The 1950s were a time when racial segregation and Jim Crowe was the law and racial mixing, especially in the bedroom, was explicitly forbidden.  It was a time when arbitrary laws denied the “wrong people” (meaning racial minorities) their rights to vote.  The few women who worked outside the home were demeaned and paid pennies on the dollar compared to their male counterparts. University education for women was rare and typically focused on home economics and the skills they would need to be successful wives and mothers.

DonDraperMadMenThe 1950s were a time where white, affluent men literally ruled the western world, where the rest of the society was expected to serve their interests without question and without deviation from their desires.  It was a time of de facto slavery and where failure to serve the white male masters was punished viciously.  It was a time where women and minorities were considered too intellectually inept to make decisions about their own bodies and incapable of being educated past the most remedial of vocational skills.  In nearly all respects except technology, it was a time where Plato, Aristotle, Julius Caesar, and dozens of famous and infamous Roman leaders would have felt perfectly at home.

In many ways it is easy to understand why these conservatives want us to live in the 1950s again.  To be conservative is to resist change, change that works against the interests of the same men who are asking for our consent to become the next American emperor.  They intrude into women’s bodies because women are presumed to be incapable of managing them — we are too stupid, too poorly educated to make good choices for ourselves.  They undermine the voting rights of racial minorities, the poor, and the elderly because such votes express opinions different from theirs — utterly intolerable in their mindset.  They demean and dismiss everyone that is not them because they are living in their 1950s paradise and want to keep it forever. And they genuinely think that we are all too stupid and afraid to speak up for ourselves, that we will continue to tolerate them and obey them.  What are we but their slaves, slaves who do not want to be free?

Therefore I ask you all to join with me in standing together.  Their 1950s conservative paradise is built on the enslavement of 99% of the population. Through extreme wealth inequities they have convinced us to fight each other for crumbs, to become moochers killing each other in zero sum scenarios of their creation — much like gladiators fighting each other for their amusement.  They have convinced us that they are our friends and it’s other people who are different from us that are the problem.

Bernie Sanders

That is a lie, folks, classic divide and conquer.  Because they know that when we stand together, they lose their power.  For centuries they’ve convinced us that everything is “win-lose,” that success only comes at the expense of someone else. Except that success actually comes by taking on a “win-win” mindset — something I learned in my months in the Law of Attraction movement.  Cooperation and teamwork is “win-win.”  The more we cooperate and help each other, the stronger we become and the less power they possess.

I for one will not play their economic and social gladiatorial games anymore.  Who’s with me?

What being “Liberal” means to me.

Being a liberal to me (Democrat for USA and Labour for UK) means I believe in fairness and equality for everyone. After learning a great deal about ancient northern Europeans and ancient British (in the larger sense of the group of islands) in particular as part of the research on my books “Boudicca: Britain’s Queen of the Iceni” and “Mary Queen of the Scots” I really came to appreciate how completely different our ancestors’ cultures were from their conquerors.

Boudicca artist concept chariot

An artist concept of what Boudicca might have looked like.

For example, they didn’t believe the land, let alone living beings could be owned. Leaders were usually on the community level and either directly elected or inherited their authority from their parents — but completely impeachable by the druids if they proved incompetent or unethical. The whole of those ancient societies was built on fairness, empathy, and cooperation. And when you consider how difficult life was, especially in Britain, it only makes sense. They were so incredibly individualistic and while scrappy (think what you see at football matches today), they really didn’t organize armies and go war. Most of the time they brawled it out a little or went to the druids or their appointed/elected leaders to sort it all out. And when someone was hungry, they were taken care of.

In my opinion, THAT IS THE WAY SOCIETY NEEDS TO BE. So for me, being a liberal means doing everything I can to bring back the values and the social structures that our ancestors had 2000 years ago. People tell me it’s impossible — you cannot undo the damage done by Roman conquest. And while I confess on a language level, we really might be stuck with that legacy, I do believe that the rest is our birth right. Because it’s the right thing to do. We need to stop being calloused towards the suffering of others and resolve ourselves to work together again rather than letting the fat cats pit us against each other. You are my friend and ally — not my rival.

Repost: Czech Kolaches Recipe

kolaches dorothy kusakI grew up with Czech Kolaches.  Very popular across the midwest United States they are probably the best reason to travel to Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and other midwestern states.

Of course I haven’t been able to find them anywhere else.  So I was thrilled to find this recipe on facebook courtesy Dorothy Husak.

Czech Kolaches.
Recipe makes 56
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup butter, cut up
3/4 cup shortening, cut up
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 cups all-purpose flour
2 packages active dry yeast envelopes
Desired filling (see below)
Powdered Sugar Icing (see below)


In a large saucepan, heat and stir milk, butter, shortening, sugar and salt just until warm (120 degreesF to 130 degrees F) and butter and shortening almost melt. Set aside and cool for 5 minutes. Stir in eggs.
In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 cups of the flour and the yeast. Add milk mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds or until combined. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Gradually add remaining flour, switching to a wooden spoon if necessary to stir in last amount of flour. (Dough will be very soft.) Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill overnight.
Shape chilled dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Cover; let rise in a warm place 30 minutes. Use your thumb or the back of a round measuring teaspoon to make a deep indentation in center of a few balls at a time. Spoon about 1 teaspoon filling into each indentation. Repeat with remaining balls and filling.
Bake one or two pans of kolaches at a time at 325 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly golden on the bottoms. Immediately remove to racks; cool slightly. If you like, drizzle with icing before serving.


Poppy Seed Filling: In a coffee grinder or small food processor blend 3/4 cup (4 ounces) poppy seeds until fine. Set aside. In a small saucepan combine 1/2 cup milk, 1/3 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon honey and a dash of salt. Cook and stir over medium heat until butter is melted. Remove from heat. In a small bowl, lightly beat 2 egg yolks. Gradually stir about half of the warm milk mixture into beaten yolks. Return the yolk mixture to milk mixture in saucepan and stir to combine. Cook and stir over medium heat just until mixture thickens and coats a spoon. Remove from heat. Stir in poppy seeds and 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest. Transfer to a bowl and chill, covered, for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. Makes 1 1/2 cups.
Raspberry Filling: In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups frozen raspberries, 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Transfer to a bowl and chill, covered, for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. Makes 1 1/2 cups.
Apricot Filling: In a medium saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups chopped dried apricots and 1 1/2 cups apricot nectar. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Cool slightly. Place in a blender and blend until smooth. (Mixture should be thicker than applesauce.) Transfer to a bowl and chill, covered, for several hours or up to 2 days. Makes 1 1/2 cup.
Powdered Sugar Icing: In a small bowl, combine 2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until icing reaches drizzling consistency. Makes 2/3 cup.

Store unglazed kolaches in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

The Great Succession Crisis Free Book offer

I can hardly believe it:  I published my very first book three years ago tomorrow!

GSC 3rd EditionOf course I feel like celebrating.  So let’s have a free book party! Use code DX38C at to get the Great Succession Crisis, now in its third edition, absolutely FREE.

Want more free books? Anyone reading and reviewing GSC Third Edition on Amazon will receive a digital copy of YOUR CHOICE of ANY book I’ve written, including the upcoming “Queen Elizabeth Tudor: Journey to Gloriana.” If interested in this offer, simply email me at for more information.