Archive | June 2014

This Week in Links: June 16 – 20

This is great advice no matter your profession!

Audiobook Creation Exchange Blog (ACX)

Think learning ever stops? We don’t! Just ask the kids finishing school for the summer about their summer reading lists. We’ve compiled your reading list to remind you to never stop increasing your audiobook aptitude. Click on for a weekend’s worth of audiobook writing and recording tips.

For Producers:

Voice Over Actor Health Tips: 10 Ways to Maintain Great Vocal Health – via Debbie Grattan’s Voice Blog – Keeping your voice in working order can be a challenge when your voice is your work. Debbie’s tips will help you maintain vocal health.

Standing Up Or Sitting Down: What’s The Best Position To Do A Voice Over?  – via Gary Terazza’s Voice-Over Blog UK – How do you record? Gary takes a look at both sides of the great debate.

Creating a Home Studio for the Beginner Voice Actor – via Voice Over Herald – Good advice on soundproofing and…

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Conformity, Self-Acceptance, and Being True to Ourselves

We all want to be loved and liked.   Whether we are introverted, extroverted or ambiverted (the middle ground between introversion and extroversion), social needs are at the very heart of our pyramid of needs as described by Abraham Maslow.  Can it be any wonder then that Maslow’s hierarchy or pyramid of needs remains one of the core tenants in the humanistic school of psychology?

 

Humanistic psychology not only teaches us that our social needs are important, but they are even more basic to our lives than our needs for self-esteem (our emotional feelings about ourselves based on our self-concept, that is our intellectual opinions about ourselves) and transcendence (our spiritual needs or needs to connect to something greater than ourselves).  So it should come to no surprise that oftentimes in our individual quests for love, friendship, and acceptance our habits tend to involve compromise.  That is, we often alter our behavior and project ideas, beliefs, and even emotions to others that are inconsistent with our own, innermost personalities and convictions.   We try so hard to be whatever we think others want us to be instead of being who we are.

Laurel A. Rockefeller at age 25Laurel A. Rockefeller, January 2014This winter, I went to great lengths to change my personal appearance to meet another person’s standards, to transform myself into what he wanted, even though what he wanted ran very much contrary to my own personal preferences.  I cut off my hair and cut it to a side part (which granted, apart from the length, I do like).  I dyed my hair black for the first time since my mid-20s when I dyed my hair to look more Asian — a response to a flood of past life memories I was working through at the time.  I also pierced the upper part of my earlobe, suffering months of pain while it healed.  More dramatically, I bought two pairs of jeans for the first time in my entire life; when I wore jeans as a child and early teen, they were always imposed on me by my parents — in complete opposition with my persistent and pervasive preference for dresses and skirts.  Even after all of this, the man (towards whom I had my first romantic inclinations in years) was still not satisfied.  He insisted I also pierce my eyebrow and get a tattoo.  Fortunately for me, the winter of 2014 was especially brutal and the businesses offering those services located far from public transportation — preventing me from doing something I really did NOT want to do — just to “earn” a date from someone who was not genuinely interested in me at all.

 

In writing about my makeover, (see http://voices.yahoo.com/going-goth-why-changed-look-2014-12471451.html?cat=43), I attracted the attention of a troll who posted numerous harassing comments to not only this article, but several others since that time.

 

And I look back and wonder, “WHY???”

 

Because you see, all of this was people pleasing.  It was my attempt to become what another wanted in hopes that he would want me.  I caved into pressure, lured by a carrot dangled in front of me, yet wholly without reward.  In the end, I never attained what I thought changing myself would achieve.  All of it — both physical and financial pain — was truly empty, a waste.

Women/Validation

I am not the first person to try to people please.  If anything, that compulsion to people please saturates the creative professions.  Actors, musicians, comedians, writers — we all want that love and adoration.  Sometimes great art comes from it — at a price.

 

When we try to please others, we please no one — least of all ourselves.  Upset at the emptiness, it becomes easy to try to use artificial means to try to either fill in the gaps or make us forget about it.  Far too many people have died trying to escape the emptiness of people pleasing.

 

So what is the answer?  What is the cave we fear to enter where our treasure lies?  Where will we find joy, creativity, and happiness?

 

There is but one place:  we must jump over that third rung of our social needs and get to self-esteem.  That is to say, we must put our own mental health first.  We must let ourselves be ourselves.  We must say “it is okay that I like ___ — even if no one around me does.”  And we must allow ourselves to say that most powerful of words:  “NO!”

 

No I shall not wear clothes I hate and find physically uncomfortable.  No, I shall not put my personal safety at risk just because someone else wants me to.  No, I shall not spend my life doing what others want unless I independently want that too.  No, I shall not tolerate mistreatment in order to gain something else in return.

 

No one can love you until you love yourself.  No one can want to be around you until you want to be around yourself — living and choosing consistent with your own core values.

 

Is this easy?  Hell no.  I find I struggle with it, especially when I come to like someone or something especially strongly.    The more I want something, the more afraid I become sometimes.  Because for me, it is especially hard to trust people.  So instead of waiting for people to get to know me, I rush into the fray full tilt — with the consequence being that I often repel the very people I want to like me.  Then I try changing myself to suit whoever it is I want to like me, as if I can somehow force someone to like me.

 

Yes, it is very irrational.  But it is also human.

 

Because waiting on the will of heaven is not easy.  It is not easy, no matter how much you may know intellectually that pursuing validation from other people is foolhardy, to actually believe in yourself so much that you can confidently proclaim “I am okay whether you agree with me or my choices or not.”

 

Conformity is an impulse even the most notorious non-conformists like myself still feel.  It comes from inner insecurities about ourselves and our self worth.

 

But here is the best message of all:  WE ARE WORTHY — OF LOVE, OF FRIENDSHIP, OF PROFESSIONAL SUCCESS.  Anyone worth working with, knowing, or be close to needs to like us and want to be around us for who we ACTUALLY are.  And if anyone cannot accept the real people we are — well it is unlikely that person is a healthy influence at all — and needs to be removed from our lives.

 

None of this comes easy at first.  But when you realize that you are worth it, it all becomes worthwhile.

 

 

Meet My Main Character Blog Tour — June 2014

A few weeks ago Alexandra Butcher  invited  me  to be involved with the Meet My Character Blog Tour. Basically she posts and tags several people and they tag others they know and so on. We discuss our own writing processes and pass the baton.

Artist concept of what Boudicca might have looked like.

Artist concept of what Boudicca might have looked like.

1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person? My name is Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni. I was born among the Aedui tribe in Gaul of royal blood before escaping Roman slavery and crossing the strait to Britannia.  I was one of the greatest heroines of the ancient world. 2) When and where is the story set? My story begins with my meeting of King Prasutagus of the Iceni in the city of Camulodunum (renamed “Chester” in the centuries since my death) which was originally the capital of the Trinovante tribe in Britannia.  I lived in the 1st century of the Common Era by Roman reckoning, dying in 61 CE after the Roman Governor Gaius Suetonius Paullinus led my army of one hundred thousand Britons into a trap. After escaping slavery in my native Gaul, I came to live among the Iceni in the lands later called Norfolk and Suffolk.  Our particular village nestled closely to the great sea dividing Britannia from the Germanic lands to the northeast and southeast. 3) What should we know about him/her? I was born of royal lineage in Gaul.  I come from the Aedui tribe which originally gained a measure of independence from Rome, making bargains with them that we assumed the Romans would uphold.  They did not; though we were allies, we found ourselves enslaved.  I was therefore born into slavery.  When I escaped with the help of my mistress’s son, a nephew of Governor Gaius Suetonius Paullinus, the young man raped me after I refused to have sex with him in exchange for his help reaching Dover.  These experiences taught me the true nature of Roman society and Roman philosophy towards women and non-Romans which I tried to convey to King Prasutagus of the Iceni. Boudicca:  Britain's Queen of the Iceni4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life? As a Gallic Celt born into slavery, my life before marrying King Prasutagus was obviously filled with sorrow and pain.  I learned to see through Roman lies.  But my beloved husband was unwilling to defer to my experience, convincing himself that only an alliance with Rome would preserve Iceni independence.  Upon his death, my worst fears were realized.  In a Roman raid on our village designed to secure the kingdom for Nero, both my daughters were raped, I was flogged, and most of our people were killed, enslaved, or lost everything in the Roman-set fires.  Can it be any wonder then that I used my power as queen to strike back, to fight for liberty? 5) What is the personal goal of the character? To free Britannia from Roman slavery and assert our Celtic values of individual freedom, gender equality, and equality among the different ranks of our society.

The audio edition of Boudicca:  Britain's Queen of the Iceni by Laurel A. Rockefeller and narrated by Richard Mann

The audio edition of Boudicca: Britain’s Queen of the Iceni by Laurel A. Rockefeller and narrated by Richard Mann

One of the most talented actors in the United Kingdom is Richard Mann

One of the most talented actors in the United Kingdom is Richard Mann

6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it? The novella is called Boudicca:  Britain’s Queen of the Iceni.  It was published on March 20th, 2014 with an audio edition narrated by UK actor Richard Mann in production right now and with an expected release date in September.

 

 

 

 

I tag:  Alexandra Butcher

 

Alexandra Butcher is the British author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles series and several short stories in the fantasy and fantasy romance genre.  She is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet and a dreamer. When she is grounded in the real world she likes science, natural history, history and monkeys.

 

 

 

Blog: http://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/

 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6430414.A_L_Butcher

 

 

 

Twitter:@libraryoferana

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DarkFantasyBeyondTheStorm

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Alexandra-Butcher/e/B008BQFCC6

 

 

The night I lost my voice

From time to time, I move away from writing and the publishing business to write about my own life and perceptions.  Tonight is one of those nights.

 

It is no secret to anyone that my upbringing was violent, raised in a church that takes the Bible so literally that the most heinous acts of violence seem perfectly logical, godly, and properly.  Where a claim of “disobedience” from a young child is enough to make her responsible for rape, incest, torture, and worse done upon her.  And where no cry for help is to be listened to.  After all, it IS the three year old’s fault if her father rapes her and slashes her with knives, is it not?

Well, so I was brainwashed into believing for many years — until I learned not to.

 

In the first six years of my life I was mortally wounded by my father six separate times — three times on Beltane (April 30th/May 1st)  and three times on Samhain (all hallow’s eve).  Sometimes I will talk about being shot or drowned.  But what I never talk about was the night, I was maybe three or four, when my voice was taken away.

 

 

The audio edition of Boudicca:  Britain's Queen of the Iceni by Laurel A. Rockefeller and narrated by Richard Mann

The audio edition of Boudicca: Britain’s Queen of the Iceni by Laurel A. Rockefeller and narrated by Richard Mann

My favorite actor and, by the grace of god/goddess/the universe, the narrator of my biographical novella “Boudicca” talks about the importance of the voice.  If you have not seen his presentation talking about the importance of our voices (courtesy of Future Legend Media), it is a true joy to watch.  

 

Our voices are very important.  But that dark night — I cannot remember if it were Beltane or Samhain — my voice was both literally and figuratively taken away.

 

By this time, my father had his routine down pretty well, kidnapping me from my room and making sure everyone else at home was either asleep or too frightened to stir.  I was usually taken into the woods near our house.  My family home was on the edge of Lincoln, Nebraska when it as first built a few months before I was born — so there were ample woods and wildlife around.  As usual, my father cut my throat one to two centimeters below my left ear (this routine left a somewhat pronounced scar — if you look)  and offered some blood to whatever it was he felt he needed to worship or revere; I will not claim I know or understand, only that the nearest I can describe the sounds of these prayers would be the “black tongue of Mordor” in Tolkien’s Middle Earth.  After raping me (which was also part of the routine), he noticed I was fighting back with the one part of myself that was stronger than the ropes he bound me with:  my voice, my song.

 

There is something spiritual about singing from the heart and soul, especially when you are that young and lack the filtering egos and superegos that enable adults to filter information.  At four the mind has not yet learned how to reject incorrect or harmful information, let alone tell the difference between when adults are telling them the truth or lying to them — which is also why many children do not know the difference between reality and fantasy.  Because of this, a child’s song is especially pure; there is no deceit to it.  If humans ever tap into the voice of that which created all of us — it is at that same age.  Healing warmth filled me.  My spirit was far from broken.  Resistance was not futile.

 

Enraged, my father drove his boline (a razor sharp ritual knife) into my vocal chords.  The singing stopped.  All sound from my throat stopped.  I Crossed Over.  But as it was before, something powerful and divine would not open the door, the tunnel some see during “near” death experiences.  The silver cord binding soul to flesh remained strong and tight, holding my spirit to just a few feet or inches away from my blood-drained body.  I was, for the lack of a better term, “MOSTLY DEAD.”  The flesh had no blood left — but the spirit remained nearly as tightly rooted as it was any other moment in my life.

 

Satisfied, my father left me for dead for a time.  I cannot tell you what happened next except that at some point, my spirit sank downward, back into my body.  Was it god or the goddess who restored me to life?  Was it some part of my spirit that simply refused death?  I am too honest a scientist to guess and have always been so.

 

The next thing I knew, I was back in my bed — but I could not speak.

 

Do not ask me why no one noticed — or cared — that my notorious chatterbox fell completely silent for weeks while my body healed.  On the surface of my skin, only a tiny mark remained.  But I could not speak, let alone sing.  No sound came out, not even a buzz.  The family dog knew and tried to console me (this was about four or five years before I finally won my argument to get my first bird).  But absolutely no one else cared that I could not speak anymore.

 

I was silenced.

 

Time of course healed my flesh, leaving little evidence unless you look for it — except when I was asked to sing in school.  Though my voice has always been pleasant to listen to (one time, while writing a song on the subway on my way home from something in Brooklyn I was directly asked if I sang on Broadway — quite a complement), I had a technical problem with my voice.  No C sharp note!  The only way to hit it or get close was to FORCE it — essentially do exactly the opposite of what every vocal music teacher or coach tells you to do — to some unpleasant consequences at times.  Today I can sing that C sharp — after a moment of particular healing while attending university.

 

But though the physical side waned and healed with time, what I never realized until tonight was that my voice was silenced more sinisterly that terrible night in the woods.  From that night forward, every single person around me DISMISSED every single thing I said.  Truth or lying did not matter (naturally my habit has always been to tell the truth — whether you want the truth or not).  No one heeded me.  No one listened.  It was as if I were invisible.

 

On November 5th, 1985, the night before lines were due in the only drama class where anyone allowed me to participate on stage, a car hit me in the left temple, slicing across the left side of the brain before my skull shattered entirely to, well, rather gruesome results –and taking all memory, including academic memory, with it.  That was the seventh time I Crossed Over — and the only accident.  If I were a right handed person like most of you this certainly would have ended all ability to communicate from a neurological stand point because those regions are clustered behind/close to the left ear.  As it happens, I am in the 50% of left handers (5% of the general population) who have SYMMETRY in the brain — meaning that instead of a single center for speech and for understanding speech, I have one on each side of my head.   My ability to speak, read, and write, remained.

 

But what good is speech if you are completely ignored, if everything you say and do is ignored or made excuses?  This extended to my health — to food allergies, to the headache that never went away after the concussion.  Not even falling grades (I had to literally re-learn everything all over again that year in school) were enough to signal to anyone that anything was wrong.

My voice was truly gone.

 

It is therefore a very humbling matter tonight to not only remember the physical attack that silenced me as a child, but also realize that the attack was also very much a psychological and spiritual one as well, designed to do exactly what it achieved.  My father is a very smart criminal who was never caught nor punished thanks to his destruction of my voice, one more than willing to speak truth to power.

 

Breath creates your voice.  You cannot sing without pushing air through your larynx.

 

Holy Mother Goddess, teach me to sing again with confidence and strength.  Let my words no longer fall to deaf ears.  Let the beauty of my writing reach the minds and hearts of others.  And bring into my life those who will encourage me to sing once more, to climb up to a high perch and dare raise my voice to heaven once more.   Let there be, at last, people in my life who care enough to steady me so that I can finally be heard. Let this little bird finally take flight.

 

So mote it be.

 

 

 

 

 

Poll: Henry V or Tudor Romance

Aristocratic_Lady_15th_b1899sd

Catherine de Valois was one of the most fascinating people of 15th century Europe.  Daughter to the paranoid schizophrenic Charles VI of France, she was the “Kate” of Shakespeare’s Henry V.

 

But few people know the story beyond Shakespeare’s rendering.  That is why this summer, the Legendary Women of World History is pleased to bring you the true story of Catherine de Valois which will go into audio edition shortly after publication for release in time for Christmas.

 

Being an ever responsive author and historian, I come to you to ask you what fascinates you most about Catherine.  Please answer the following poll and share.