Guest post: Breast Cancer Awareness fundraiser

This is a guest post from Mary Sandra Marie, Marketing Coordinator with the Regency Shop based in Los Angeles. In support of Breast Cancer Awareness I am posting this guest post. I am not being paid to post this nor am I affiliated in any way with the Regency Shop. If you are interested in bidding on these items to raise money for breast cancer research you may choose to visit the links below.

Here is How Regency Shop Supporting Breast Cancer Survivors.
October is the official breast cancer awareness month, and whether individual or business, everyone is coming up with creative and innovative ideas to support the social cause. Regency Shop, renowned modern furniture retailer has organized charity auction to financially support breast cancer research and encourage breast cancer survivors.
The furniture retailer has decided to provide beautiful custom designed chair while encouraging people to contribute to an important social cause. Regency Shop has been participating in the movement with three thematic auctions. Participates will get a chance to show their support for breast cancer survivors, and an opportunity to win one-of-a-kind stylish lounge chairs.
According to recent studies, one in every eight American women has chances to develop invasive breast cancer, and the count is expected to increase tremendously. You can generate awareness about the disease and be there for millions of women by taking part in Regency Shop’s exclusive auction during breast cancer awareness month, from 1st Oct to 30 Oct, 2014.
The charity auction organized at Regency Shop is not mere a contest. It’s more like you becoming October’s special hero by supporting a global cause, and support the event. It is indeed the best way to showcase your care for breast cancer survivors and bring a positive change to the world.
Regency Shop is auctioning three magnificent eero aarnio ball chair, hanging bubble chair and barcelona chair. All these three chairs are 100% custom designed and pink as pink is the signature color used in breast cancer awareness campaigns.
For auction listings visit:
Eero Aarnio Ball Chair

Barcelona Chair

Hanging Bubble Chair

Mary Sandra Marie

Marketing Coordinator, Regency Shop

How to tell a story, part 2: Emotions and Voice Command

 At long last Part 2 of “How to tell a story” is here . I promised this about three weeks ago but recent (negative) situations in my life have made blogging tertiary for the moment.  Unfortunately I am not (yet) a successful, multi-millionaire author/publisher/entrepreneur  so until that time I need to keep working my day job and moving along with life.

I will update this section with a link to the vlog I am creating on this section, but in part 2 out of 3 I want to focus on two more aspects of Nick Morgan’s excellent book “Power Cues” (Harvard Business Review Press, 2014). In chapters 2-4 Nick talks about many things but two concepts are most critical to you, the aspiring writer: Mirror neurons and your “secret sound”.

Mirror Neurons are, by definition (from Wikipedia):

“A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another.Thus, the neuron “mirrors” the behavior of the other, as though the observer were itself acting.”

In other words, we react to an emotion with a reflecting emotion because it is in our DNA. It’s the reason why we (there are some sadists who are exceptions, but they really are) see someone cry and we feel a sense of pity. We see someone laugh and we want to laugh with them, or at least smile. Mirror neurons in short are what create emotion and allow us to feel empathy. From the book:

“At its heart, decisions making involves emotions, because emotions give us the ability to weight the relative import of all the factors involves…the decisions we make in real life involve weighing different amounts of attachment and importance.” (Morgan 64)

“If communication becomes possible thanks to mirror neurons, then leadership becomes possible too, because what is leadership without the ability to communicate with your followers?” (Morgan 65)

The purpose of controlling one’s emotions is not just to get parts in a movie (Morgan write that a big reason why we as society make actors into celebrities is because they are able to master their emotions to manipulation in ways the rest of us can’t) but to convey a sense of feeling which words cannot describe. Morgan’s book focuses on the nonverbal cues and how they can help in speech, but for this exercise I will talk about how they impact one’s ability to write.

It is not always easy, nor should it be, to convey emotions by literally writing “she looked into her eyes and saw a reflection of herself: a sad and lonely child with few friends but many enemies.” This sentence is blatantly obvious about there being a scene where two characters are sad. Sometimes it can be expressed through speech:

JOHN: Hey man, you look like you’re bothered by something. What’s up?

JACOB: Not much, man…well, nothing I really want to talk about.

JOHN: You sure?

JACOB: Nah, well…John, have you ever been fired from a job?

JOHN: Yea, I have.

JACOB: Well, that’s the gist of what happened.

JOHN: Listen man, I’m here for you. You can talk to me.

In this made-up example I as the author do not need to narrate John’s emotional understanding that Jacob is upset by something, in this case the fact that he was fired from his job. The dialogue alone tells you how the two characters interact and how John can “share” Jacob’s pain in just dialogue. If you are trying to improve your writing then you should try to think about how YOU would behave in a certain situation (unless you are an emotionless zombie, in which case think of how your screaming victims might behave) and try to picture that scene in your head.

If you would listen to a friend when she’s been dumped by her boyfriend or your cousin who got a pay raise at work and react appropriately, then there is no reason your writing should change. For some reason a lot of authors have a fetish for a type of literary style I like to call “literary prose” which differs from the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition in that it is too style-focused and not action-focused. You’ll recognize books like that where the author will spend countless words describing some rather irrelevant backstory or how someone feels about something or explaining every minute plot point as though you’re in second grade (unless you are, in which case I apologize). Having seen enough novel excerpts I get the impression that this is what must be taught in workshops and creative writing courses, like everyone must one-up Charles Dickens.

Instead try to write as though people are behaving rationally and let the characters carry the action. Leave as much of the narration behind as you can get away with. Some authors, especially very novice authors, will narrate too heavily and spend page after page reflecting on someone’s feelings. One good example was a book I recently read, Wool by Hugh Howey. While the plot itself is very creative Howey spends too many pages, especially in the middle, describing a backstory unrelated to the plot and telling, rather than showing, how a character feels about something. I am picking on him because he comes to mind right now so sorry Hugh, it’s not personal.


The second part of the book relates to your “secret voice”. Every person, when he or she talks, emits low-frequency sounds called a “hertz” which sound like a hum. Listen to someone talk, preferably in person, and see if you can detect the monotonous low drone sound which comes from their voice. You probably didn’t know, but a lot of who we as people determine who our leaders are by wwhoeverhas the “lowest” low-frequency sounds because we somehow perceive them to be the “strongest people.”

Most of the chapter in Morgan’s book on this topic discusses public speaking, a topic which I will blog about in the future. Sticking to the book or script writing, you cannot (literally) write in a character’s vocal chord hum. But you can, through dialogue, determine the “voice” your characters will have. You can have characters speak a certain way to determine who’s in charge in a given group. If you picture how this person might talk in real life you will better understand what it is inside our brains which makes us hardwired to follow the person with the best vocal chord pitch. So in our next example:

SAMANTHA: This assignment is soooo stupid. How are we going to memorize Act 1 Scene 1 of Hamlet in two days?

SABRINA: There is a way to get it done but it just takes practice.

LEANNE: How would we do that Sabrina?

SABRINA: It’s easy. There are four characters. Horatio and Marcellus have longer lines so one of us takes Horatio, One takes Marcellus, and the third person takes the other two characters. Just memorize your character’s lines and the three words preceding it to give your verbal cue.

SAMANTHA and LEANNE: Sounds like a plan.

Can’t figure out how it worked in this example, can you? In your own mind, how do you think Sabrina sounds? Does she sound maybe like a well-spoken female leader you know, a famous person like Condoleeza Rice or perhaps your alma mater’s president? A successful businesswoman or lawyer? My guess is the literal sound Sabrina created in your mind was cobbled together from your life experiences and expectations. Therefore it would be logical, based on your own mind, to create a voice which would allow Sabrina, with that dialogue, to command respect.

Now try this exercise: Picture Sabrina speaking like Fran Drescher from “The Nanny” or some other nasally sounding voice. She will have the same dialogue, but would she command the same respect? Most people, even with the same dialogue, are listening to HOW someone talks and not just the words they say. It’s a bias we all have.

My tip: If you are trying to project a characteristic on a person, particularly if your character is supposed to be a leader, think of either a) someone you know (in person or informally) or b) a combination of people based on your experiences; and then think of how they might exhibit leadership through dialogue (again narrate only as absolutely necessary). Write that down and “listen” in your own mind. Once you can create a dialogue in your mind which sounds like how you want it to go. You may find your plot might even pivot or change completely based on how a character you create acts based on the dialogue you’ve constructed for them.

Give it a try and leave comments on this page if you want to add to the discussion.

Coming up Next: The  third and final installment of “Power Cues”: How to use stories to get on the right wavelength.

Coming up soon: the pre-Halloween special. This will be a trick-or-treat set of “top Ten” items, but whether it’s a trick or treat is up to me (cackle, cackle)


High, How are you? More Denver Photos

Since no one answered my post from Tuesday, I guess no one wins a cool Colorado prize :(. Oh well, I have a new little trinket for my apartment.

Here is the second half of photos from Denver:

“High…how are you doing?”

Colorado goes green

Bacon really does go on everything.

The bumper sticker says it all. Perfect for bikes too.

OK I admit it…I “borrowed” the slogan.

Eastern Colorado from the air.

Boulder Mountain park, looking north towards Fort Collins.

Now you know where your “cold as the mountain” beer comes from.

Finally, in honor of October. The Haunted Forest at Boulder Mountain Park. Do you dare….?

*Note: all photos are my property. If you choose to share the photos anywhere else you are free to do so but make sure you cite my blog as the original source. This provision also applies to all photos posted in the blogpost “New Vlog and photos” posted October 1, 2014; and also to any future blogposts on this site.

New Vlog and photos!

Thank you for spending a little bit of your life reading and watching my “product”.

Please click on the link to watch my new Vlog: the art of storytelling. In the first part of the storytelling trilogy, I talk about the concept of Self-awareness and provide some tips for writing your novel, script, or speech without having to blatantly and obviously state what is going on in a particular scene or setting you’re trying to write about. This is the power of nonverbal cues. The book I am referencing is Power Cues  by Nick Morgan.

Click to watch now!

Hopefully you watched my Vlog so you can boost the number of hits I have on Youtube (like it matters). Now, as promised, I am providing you with a few photos of my recent trip to Denver. If you see one you like, feel free to share it…and always always always (rule of self-awareness! repeating yourself is unnecessary in writing) comment on this blog or share my posts on your own page (with citation of course)

Both: Golden, CO, outside the Coors plant. This is what Coors Brewery employees see every day.

inside the Coors plant. The glow in E.T.’s hand just…looks perfect.

left: Downtown Denver from my hotel room at mid-day. Right: Downtown Denver from my hotel room at sunrise.

left: one more epic shot of downtown Denver at sunrise just because. Right: Dushanbe Teahouse, Boulder, CO. The restaurant was built by Tajik architects as part of a “sister cities” project.”

Dushanbe Teahouse ceiling.

Chicago and Lake Michigan from 39,000 feet.

This one might confuse you: I took this interesting photo from a location in the general Denver area. Can you guess where? If you get it before I post the remaining photos this week (sometime Thursday, October 2 in the P.M.), you win a prize. Seriously. A little Colorado gift from me. Hint: When you think of China you think of this.

***Spoiler alert: You may feel a little “elevated” after seeing the next batch of photos, if you get my drift.