Leonard “Spock” Nimoy Dies at Home

Leonard Nimoy died in his home at 83 years old. The actor, who all of us know as Spock, had a chronic Pulmonary problem that was the cause of his death. H credited his smoking as the reason he had these problems.

Mr. Nimoy also was a musician and poet, and enjoyed photography. Here is spock doing Bilbo Baggins:

Live Long and Prosper Spock
Dif-tor heh smusma

Published in: on February 27, 2015 at 4:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Independent Publishing in the Year 2015

I mentioned in a previous post that I was planning on self publishing my upcoming Non-Fiction book Overcoming Anxiety, and I noted the changed landscape of the publishing industry. I promised to update and share the information I learned as I picked it up. Reader beware, at the speed of a flash, these things are changing so everything I say here will be outdated by the time I push the publish button on WordPress.

One most noticeable difference is that Discoverability is now the buzz word. There are millions of digital books flooding the market and the gatekeepers have changed.  While previously you needed to send ARC’s to bookstores and newspapers, the gold standard was Publisher’s Weekly and New York Times. You also wanted your legacy publisher to buy you shelf space near the front of the store. Blogs were a nice niche place to get reviews, but they were often seen, with the exception of a few of the bigger ones, as rather frivolous and really nor important.

in 2013-2014 it became more necessary to get plenty of reviews, to get promoted on a site know as Bookbub (which reached over a million digital readers and could be targeted), and to write series, as they were the engines of online sales. For reasons I won’t go into now, even that changed and independent publishing got much harder. It no longer was a gold rush.

Bookbub‘s success (it now reaches over 2 million subscribers) meant that it had to get picky and expensive. You still made your money back and more if they “picked” your book but it was an expensive outlay for the struggling indie author. But getting picked meant, among other things, that you needed at least five substantial reviews, a certain length of book, and the most convincing book description, since you were often competing with 19 other authors for one opening (nowadays there is no specified number, but in a recent Q and A on Kindle boards Bookbub admitted that in a competitive area like contemporary romance, typically 100+ reviews were the norm

To make matters harder, how was a new independent author to get all those reviews? The multitude of authors with whom you are competing all turned to niche blogs to get reviewed, which worked for a while, but then all these bloggers were swamped with books to read after they came home from their day jobs.  Soon getting five reviews in the first few weeks became hard, and when the goal posts moved again (Bookbub‘s success squeezed your success out) – there was no way to get 100 reviews, except by giving away free books in the tens of thousands.  The free giveaway worked briefly for increased sales and definitely for more reviewers (including more negative ones) but Amazon changed the algorithms and the way affiliate referral were made, and so free books, while still a good idea with a series, became much less useful.

When I return to this topic I will talk about the trend to lend (especially on Amazon) instead of sell, and to other issues only briefly touched on here.

Review: Snap Strategies for Couples, a Quick Read

As a psychologist I often read and sometimes review books about psychology and psychological interventions, so when I saw Snap Strategies For Couples by Lana Staheli and Pepper Schwartz, I was eager to get it. In part I was curious because there had not been any good book by a new author skilled in couples work in recent times. I was provided the Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review of this book, which is currently in pre-release status, and will be available for sale to the public on April 21st, 2015.

The authors have both published before, and this is their first collaboration. Dr. Staheli is a coach, and Dr. Schwartz describes herself as a “relationship coach,”but she is best known as a sexologist and sociologist. Dr. Schwartz writes a column on sexuality for AARP, and a book she wrote earlier made the New York Times bestseller list. In Snap Strategies for Couples neither author give their specific credentials; however from the content of the book it is likely that they are both trained in the coaching area. As a consequence, some might find these ideas a little too simplistic. Yet the 40 brief interventions that the authors describe are consistent with the kinds of emphasis and scope that is often found in the coaching domain. As such, Snap Strategies is a useful and well written collection of simple straightforward things a couple can do to improve their relationship.

Each of the 40 topics is introduced and followed by two clinical anecdotes that illustrate the issue. Each of these brief 5-9 page chapters is then concluded by a prescribed solution offered by Drs. Staheli and Shwartz.  Many of these suggestions seem self-evident, as in the chapter on Snarky Comments. The authors point out that making snarky comments to your spouse can “poison the relationship,” and in the prescription, they say that recipient should first recognize that the snarky comments are hurtful, take them on, and then be specific in describing what is being said that is so hurtful. This is fairly typical of the level at which these discussions are presented. They are always straightforward and  simple, but nonetheless often useful. However, if you expect in depth or scholarly discussions of marital problems and their solutions, tied to research or to the known experts in the field, then the reader may be disappointed. The authors do have a chapter on the Languages of Love that credits and relies upon the 1995 book by Chapman.

I found some of these pithy interventions quite well crafted and helpful. For example, one solution to a tendency of one partner to be too critical is for the critic to focus instead on the good things that they would like to see increased, rather than on trying to  curb purportedly problematic areas.  Where this book is at it’s best, however, is in addressing sexual conflicts and problems. Dr. Schwartz has already made something of a name for herself in this arena, with writing as far back as 1970 in her topic area. Her expertise shines through in these chapters, mostly outlined towards the end of the book.

I give the book Snap Strategies for Couples 4 out if 5 stars, and this quick read, aimed at couples trying to breaks some bad habits and patterns, may help many couples navigate these conflicts and problems more smoothly.

Snap Strategies for Couples

40 Fast Fixes for Everyday Relationship Struggles

by  Lana Staheli and Pepper Schwartz

Seal Press

263 Pages

Release Date: April 21st, 2015

 

 

 

 

Published in: on January 19, 2015 at 11:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Review of See Bride Run by Charlotte Hughes

See Bride Run! is the latest book by Charlotte Hughes, and I enjoyed this book, which was a quick and funny read. It can be read in one sitting (it is 211 pages long) and is really a classical romance.

Charlotte has the ability to paint characters that are both funny and 3 dimensional. She writes great dialogue and keeps the plot moving. In this story she has a prologue in which the protagonist, Annie Hartford, steals the family limousine in order to flee a wedding forced on her by her father. She has lived under her father’s thumb all her life, since he raised her as his only family member.

The car brakes down in Pinckney Georgia, in front of Sam Ballard’s Café.. Sam and Annie go through many of the usual crises/conflicts before the HEA, but the reader has fun along the way.

The book is fun and a quick read, with several quirky characters. I can recommend this book with 4.5 stars.

seebridereunresized

See Bride Run!: (Click here for more)

Published in: on January 2, 2015 at 3:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Review of Against Her Will by Peter Martin

Against Her Will is a debut novel by the author, and as such introduced me to an author of whom I will keep track. His book is a hybrid and includes a plot that at the beginning and end reads like a suspenseful thriller, with a breathtaking pace and twists, turns and a surprise ending. However the middle part Is not at all like this and focusses instead on a very adroit but much slower psychological profile of a woman dealing with the aftermath of rape.

The plot follows the protagonist Donna, from a rape she experiences on the way home from work, devolving further and further into a world of pain and isolation. Initially she attempts to stay with her boyfriend, but when that does not work, she moves in with her parents, and eventually to a care home, where recovery seems impossible. However she meets a male from the staff of the institution and moves in with his family. The ending of the film has a surprise twist, and this reviewer won’t give it away.

I am a clinical psychologist and have treated countless men and women who have dealt with the aftermath of trauma, and I can say that for a work of fiction this rings true enough, and the book seems to care deeply about the protagonist, and it gets the morass that Donna finds herself swimming through. While this section is well written, the suspenseful parts elsewhere in the book are better, and they show the promise of this new writer. Despite the problems with pacing, I highly recommend this book and will be eagerly to see what the author next has to offer.

Amazon Best Sellers

Published in: on December 28, 2014 at 11:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Maya Angelou has Died

In case you had not heard, Maya Angelou, renowned poet and Medal of Freedom winner, has died according to her agent:

Maya Angelou Dies

While all of us loved her, she has lived a remarkable life. For example few know that she was a calypso singer who recorded an album as such that won her some fame, before he poetry was recognized.

She turned pain into poetry and gave her voice to those who were voiceless. She encouraged girls to grab the world “by the lapels.” Here is Maya reciting “Still Rise” : Still Rise by Maya Angelou on Youtube.

While she may have left her body, she left a body of work that will be eternal

Published in: on May 28, 2014 at 10:08 am  Leave a Comment  
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Self-Publishing in the Age of the Kindle

Book publishing has changed. In the past, the idea of publishing a book outside of the Big 6 New York Publishing Houses (especially without an agent) was relegated to vanity publishing. People who had no other recourse spent about $10,000 to make enough copies to fill half their garage, which is where the books congregated. With few exceptions, these endeavors never made any money or came close to paying back the initial cost, not to mention the cost to the author’s brand/reputation.

Today, an author needs to think twice before signing on with a traditional publisher. In order To self-publish the initial costs, in addition to writing the book, are procuring your own cover and hiring a decent editor. Sure you will still have to promote your book but that would be necessary with a print publisher as well (at least if you plan to sell any books).

However the royalties from Amazon if you go with the $2.99-$9.99 price range, are 4-9 times greater than you would get from a traditional print publisher, and you also have the potential to get Amazon to put their marketing muscle behind you, if you are smart or lucky enough to please the Amazon algorithm.

These and related reasons have led me to self publish the book

    Overcoming Anxiety

once I have finished the editing. That means I need to brush up on self publishing and while I do that, I will try to share much of what I learn with my readers.

Published in: on May 26, 2014 at 3:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Been a While

Since I posted here so I thought I would ay least throw out a few random thoughts so this site does not develop rigor mortis.

As for politics, America has only one party, the establishment, with left and right wings loosely called democrats and republicans (no capitalization is intended, not worthy of it). Tea Party activists do the bidding of the republican establishment, and progressives carry water for the democratic establishment.

Sheldon Adelson, who supplied Newt Gingrich’s entire bankroll, now is putting all his money and power behind getting government on our backs, controlling the internet by banning things like online poker. Next will be angry birds?

Published in: on February 13, 2014 at 10:09 am  Leave a Comment  

Aspergers Syndrome, Can we Save it?

Persons diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome learned recently that the psychiatric community in the USA has determined that this disorder is so much like Autism that it should be diagnosed instead as a mild form of Autism. While there has been some overlap and similarities in Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism, I am one psychologist who would have prefered that the two be more clearly separated, an outcome almost diametrically opposite from the one chosen by American psychiatry in its DSM-5 version (due out later this year).

While there are some advantages for these children to be seen as Autistic (access to research funds, better access to society’s supportive programs), these are outweighed by the negatives. It is less likely that adult and adolescent children with Aspergers will want to be identified as autistic. More important than the greater likelihood of stigmatization, is the prospect that the etiology and treatment of Aspergers will become hopelessly muddled and confused. Understanding of the disorder will be set back decades as will treatment and diagnostic issues. So what can be done?

There is a realistic prospect that US Psychiatry will change this decision the next time around, if advocacy groups apply pressure, however that prospect would require a wait of several years. A better approach is for the various advocacy groups tied to the disorder to develop a new institutional groundwork- one in which the funding for research, education and all things nonmedical are addressed outside the purview of mental health, and away from the insurance industry. While therapy may still need to rely on the medical establishment, the ICD-10 still can be used, at least for the near future, to capture the correct diagnosis (F-84.5).

Published in: on January 21, 2013 at 6:52 pm  Comments (2)  
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Whistleblowers Can Be An Antidote to Fascism

More than a decade after the twin towers were attacked by foreign forces, the USA becomes more and more willing to curtail our bill of rights. While the initial reaction by the Bush regime was obviously excessive: waterboarding, warrantless wiretaps and other surveillance, the end of habeas corpus, and general forfeiture of our privacy rights, we all hoped that sanity would eventually, if gradually, return.

The election of a Democrat as president did little to change this picture. We may have stopped waterboarding, but there would be no way of being sure, given the lack of transparency. Otherwise the tendency to fascistic methods of top down control by the elite has remained – and in many cases it has grown; this was even more troubling to those few of us who still care about the principles that made the USA a beacon for freedom and human rights.

If you doubt this trend, just look at the 112th congress. Infamous for having a “do nothing” approach in which far less was accomplished and fewer bills passed than any other congress, this congress was nevertheless very productive in curtailing the rights of Americans. Bill after bill passed to end these rights, with large bipartisan support, and many of these bills would not have been thinkable, even under Chaney and the specter of the 911 attack.

Is there any way out of this gradual slide to a state in which individual rights are rare? We, of course, would need a more thoughtful media. This is unlikely to happen with the mainstream media who long ago lost its soul, its curiosity, and its forebrain. The best we can hope for there is a vibrant web and blog universe, although I think it is still an imperative to crack open the cable providers, forcing them to provide dozens of smaller less commercial cable channels with divergent voices.

For me, however, the most pressing need is to make it not only possible for whistleblowers to reveal the excesses, but to insure that they are protected afterwards. There has been a little progress with this project in some spheres, but there is no protection whatsoever for whistleblowers who work for the parts of out government most likely to be abused. Nada. No whistleblowers there. We need to put pressure on our legislators to balance the erosion of our rights by encouraging a voice for those working in the muck who discover the dirty laundry, and would like to air it. Sunshine is still a good antisceptic.

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