Psyched for Romance

Sports Romance & Romantic Suspense With a Psychological Twist

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Booze and Good Times!

It's back to school time! And for many high school and college students, it's a time to experiment with alcohol. For adults harangued by work stress, parenting, or political mumbo-jumbo, it might be time to chug a glass of wine. For authors waiting to hear back from agents or publishers, it's time to drink. A lot.

My question for you is: If you choose to drink alcohol, how do you get the good stuff without the bad stuff? (Aren't you lucky I'm writing this blog post between psychotherapy clients?)

I've learned a lot about extracting buzz, relaxation, and fun from alcohol (while avoiding hangovers and beer goggles) from the amazing University of Washington researcher Dr. Alan Marlatt. He and colleagues published an interactive journal titled "CHOICES" related to the information in this book.

...and I want to pass along some golden nuggets to YOU.

First of all let's talk about the choice to drink alcohol. Did you know about 20% of college students don't drink at all? (The percentage of non-drinkers older than college age is undoubtedly higher).

And for the students who do drink, most drink responsibly (fewer than 6 drinks a week)? If you believe everyone drinks in your crowd, then you probably have a skewed group of friends.

If you do choose to drink alcohol, what are some pros and cons about drinking? I like to drink to feel giddy and/or relaxed, particularly in social situations. But I don't like headaches or fatigue.

What you might notice about your pro/con list is that the stuff you like comes from LOWER doses of alcohol, whereas the stuff you dislike comes from HIGHER doses. So the secret to getting the good stuff from alcohol is sticking to a limit--about 1-2 standard drinks for women and 2-3 standard drinks for men.

So what's a "standard" drink? One hint...it's smaller than a keg!
*12 oz. beer
*10 oz. microbrew
*4 oz. wine
*1.25 oz. 80 proof liquor (a shotglass)

For the average sized man, each standard drink raises his Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) by .02. So he could have three drinks in an hour and be under the .08 legal limit for driving.

But for the average woman, each standard drink raises her BAC by .04!!! That's because women have less water, more estrogen, and are typically smaller. Women can easily hit the legal limit for driving with just two drinks in an hour.

For every hour, our body removes about .015%. Therefore, if I drank 5 glasses of wine right before going to bed at midnight, my BAC would be .20. If I subtract .015 each hour, then it won't be until 2:00 the next afternoon until the alcohol completely leaves my body. If I wake up at 8:00 a.m. and think I'm hungover, I'd still technically be drunk (BAC = .08)!

If you want the nice buzz and social facilitation from alcohol, drink up to a BAC of .055 and then stop. That's the best alcohol has to give you and you won't feel any better if you keep drinking. For women that's 1-2 drinks; for men that's 2-3 drinks.

.055 is known as the "point of diminishing returns".


So have that drink or two, feel the buzz, then move on to enjoy your evening! *cheers*

Time for the Omnific Publishing Author Blog Hop! Check out instructions HERE.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Review: Gone Girl

Every once in a while a psychological thriller comes along that indeed thrills this psychologist/author (psycho author). That book is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.
Gone GirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


"Fatal Attraction of the 21st Century"

...only I'm not sure who plays the role of the psycho Glenn Close character -- the wife Amy or the husband Nick?

Gone Girl is a fascinating read, an emotional rollercoaster featuring two "whackos" (thanks for that apt description, AnneOK) who have the misfortune of marrying each other. Nick is a magazine writer from Missouri who feels guilty for his charming good looks. Amy is also a writer, a beautiful blonde, and the daughter of two psychologists (the poor thing -- she's definitely screwed for life with parents like that!)

Nick and Amy meet in NYC and fall in love with each other...or who they think is each other. When they both lose their jobs in the recession, they move to Nick's small Missouri hometown. Amy hates it there, and Nick isn't loving life either. When Amy suddenly goes missing, is Nick to blame? Did he murder his wife?

I love how the author manipulated my emotions so well. First I liked Nick. Then I hated Nick. Then I hated Amy. Then I thought they were both nutjobs who deserved each other!

The author's voice is fun and snarky. Here Nick watches Amy cook him breakfast the night after they have a blow-out argument:

When she spied me lurking there in grubby boxers, my hair in full Heat Miser spike, she leaned against the kitchen counter and said, “Well, hello, handsome.”

New Yorker Amy is so disdainful of small town Missouri.

Yep, I have gone cold turkey off all things East Coast and I have earned my thirty-day chip (here it would be a potato chip).

Here Amy describes her neighbor Noelle, and I cringe from the spot-on snide remarks about my Midwestern home:

The Midwest is full of these types of people: the nice-enoughs. Nice enough but with a soul made of plastic--easy to mold, easy to wipe down. The woman’s entire music collection is formed from Pottery Barn compilations. Her bookshelves are stocked with coffee-table crap: The Irish in America, Mizzou Football: A History in Pictures, We Remember 9/11, Something Dumb with Kittens.

Amy's character is simultaneously scintillating and scary. Her cognitive intelligence is stellar (thanks for that insight, Mitzi) but her emotional intelligence is abysmal. I think she might meet criteria for both Borderline Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder. When she catches Nick doing something naughty, she sizzles with a revenge plan.

I had a new persona, not of my choosing. I was Average Dumb Woman Married to Average Shitty Man. He had single-handedly de-amazed Amazing Amy.

Nick's got his own issues. I diagnose him with Narcissistic Personality Disorder!

This novel takes a while to build up to the drama and suspense, but it's well worth it. All the background and characterization of the first 200 pages is likely necessary to manipulate the reader's emotions so well.

Recommended for: single people who want validation for never marrying, and married/partnered people who want to feel good about their marriage by comparison!
View all my reviews

Authors--join us on Omnific's Blog Bounce! Instructions here.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Swimming Out of Water Blog Tour

I'm happy to be a stop on the blog tour for Swimming Out of Water by Catherine Garceau. Thank you to Babs from Babs Book Bistro for hosting the tour!
I truly enjoyed this memoir by synchronized swimming Olympic medalist Catherine Garceau. She struggled with eating disorders, crises of faith, and countless disappointments to represent Team Canada at the 2000 Sydney Games. Although I was a speed swimmer and utterly graceless in the water, I have done psychotherapy with athletes with eating disorders, so this memoir intrigued me.

It's an interesting format for a memoir, flashing back to the past from a perilous present. Catherine decides to take one last hike before leaving Las Vegas, where she's been working in a Cirque du Soleil type of water show after retiring from swimming. Unfortunately, she hops down a mountain ledge only to find she's stuck there, with no one to help and no water or food. Perched on the ledge, she scribbles in her journal, and these memories and bits of wisdom form the bulk of her story.

As a seven year old, French-Canadian Catherine started competitive swimming, and soon after began synchronized swimming (two vastly different sports--speed swimming is like track whereas synchronized swimming is like gymnastics underwater). At age eleven she had to choose to "synch or swim" and she chose synchronized swimming. Later she questions that choice:

Throughout my years in competition, especially when I cried more than I laughed in the sport I had chosen as my vocation, I imagined what my life would have been like if I had remained a speed swimmer and continued accumulating accolades in backstroke.

I admit I wondered what that would be like for Catherine as well. As a judged sport, synchronized swimming is brutal in its politics. Speed swimming is simply about who gets her hand on the wall first. But Catherine obviously made the best of her choice, winning an Olympic medal and more importantly discovering some important life lessons like:

Today, when I catch myself feeling down, discouraged with my progress, or judgmental of others, I bring compassion to the situation and choose to move forward with love. I’ve come to accept that if I do lose myself in negativity for a while, it’s probably Life asking me to walk through another tunnel in order to see the Light. This involves choosing to feel and release the arising emotions instead of avoiding them with exercise or food. And in the event that I succumb to old habits of eating instead of feeling, I remind myself that the journey towards emotional freedom and the acceptance of imperfections is always unfolding.

Compassion for self and others is key. I also agree that eating disorders and other addictive behaviors develop when we don't cope with our feelings effectively.

When Catherine sees a sport psychologist, she works hard to manage feelings better:

Learning how to deal with my struggles was a journey of balancing outside support with my own work of getting to know myself -- and getting to know how I was wired to think. I read inspiring books, I wrote in a journal, I reflected on my feelings, and I learned to recognize my negative tendencies. The process took much dedication and sometimes made me feel hopeless.

Sounds quite realistic as a therapy experience. At one point Catherine goes swimming with dolphins -- this is definitely on my bucket list! I wasn't aware that dolphins have unique healing abilities.

Catherine claims that chlorine can be damaging to those who are most sensitive to its effects. I've been around chlorine all my life and haven't had negative physical consequences other than bouts of bronchitis each swim season, so at first I was a bit skeptical. But she argues that some are more susceptible than others, and I can buy that. Catherine does share interesting findings about the "brain" in our gut, and how food can have a strong impact on mood and physiology.

Like many athletes, Catherine struggles when she retires from synchronized swimming. There's no structure, no urgency, no beta-endorphin high. Athletes suffering from eating disorders have it doubly hard upon retirement due to the fear of weight gain. She talks about the personalities that take over during binge eating episodes -- Miss Sweet Eater, Mr. Car Eater, Forget-All-Rules Eater...reminding me of the fantastic book Life Without Ed. Luckily Catherine also gets to know Ms. Nurture-U as she learns to eat more wholesome and organic foods.

At first the writing style seemed stilted, but when I learned that English is Catherine's second language, it all made sense. I loved all the quotes and references she includes.

My favorite part of Catherine's story is how she uses heartache and struggle to teach her optimism and strength.

Clearly, moments of despair are catalysts for profound change and action.

Amen!

I'll leave you with a video of Team Canada's medal performance at the 2000 Olympics, honoring different Olympic sports. Check out their awesome representation of rowing and cycling!


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My Babies Reviewed, On Sale, and Given Away

Authors, after countless hours spent writing and polishing your novel (your baby), isn't it lovely when you hear positive feedback? I'm sharing a few great reviews book bloggers have bestowed recently.

Additionally, for a limited time, you can buy my babies ON SALE. If $2.99 is too rich for your blood, you can enter giveaways of my babies!
~*~
Streamline is a Young Adult swimming romance. Julie from A Tale of Many Reviews hosted a YA Summer Reading event, providing interested reviewers with a copy.

Bookworm Lisa called Streamline "stunning" in her review. That brought a big, fat smile to my face!

Karen from Nose in a Book gave Streamline a 5 star review!

Omnific Publishing put all its YA titles on sale for $2.99 as part of the reading event. Get Streamline on sale HERE.

And check out the sidebar of this blog to enter a giveaway for a signed print copy of Streamline from Goodreads.
~*~
With Good Behavior is book one in The Conduct Series--adult romantic suspense.

Amanda from On a Book Bender called With Good Behavior "engrossing, entertaining, and thought-provoking" HERE. Hop over to enter the giveaway!

I'm happy With Good Behavior is still on sale for $2.99 HERE.
~*~
Thank you to book bloggers Lisa, Karen, and Amanda for taking the time to read my babies, and thank YOU for stopping by!

And now it's time to bounce on Omnific Publishing's Blog Bounce.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Cover Reveal: Iridescent by Carol Oates

I'm excited to reveal the new cover for YA Paranormal IRIDESCENT by Carol Oates!


Simply gorgeous. I have book one in this series -- Ember -- waiting for me, and I can't wait to start it.

Ember is only $2.99 as part of Omnific's YA Celebration...get it HERE so you're ready for Iridescent's release in October!

Sign up for the blog tour for Iridescent at A Tale of Many Reviews TOURS.

Candra Ember used to dream of saving the world one person at a time. She never expected to become an angelic weapon and the last hope in the battle against ultimate darkness.

Falling for a Nephilim wasn’t part of Sebastian’s plan. Distraction is something he can’t afford when his rival, Draven, wants what Sebastian has.

Lies, manipulation, and corruption are twisting the lives of the citizens in Acheron. The Arch is missing from Heaven, and a demon is intent on claiming the city. At a time they should be growing closer, grief and paranoia is driving Candra and Sebastian apart.

If the price of restoring the Watchers to Heaven is a human soul, who deserves to be saved?


Now go stalk Carol. She's a lovely woman!

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13614229-iridescent
Website: http://www.caroloates.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/caroloates.author
Twitter: @CarolOates https://twitter.com/caroloates

Thursday, August 9, 2012

3 Essential Components of Character Building

Today I'm pleased to have Katheryn Rivas on the blog for a guest post about building a *great* character! Take it away, Katheryn:

3 Essential Components of Building a Great Character

Quirks
I have the habit of brushing my fingernails across my lips while I’m concentrating, and sometimes I lean on my desk and rest my chin in my palm. Mentally, I fluctuate between intense focus and broad contemplation.

A character’s mannerisms are silent voices of mental undercurrents. Each time characters clear their throats, lower their eyelids, shift their gazes or scratch their cheeks – there is a reason they do it.

My favorite exercise for character building is people-watching. At restaurants, bars, parks and even church – I study people’s appearances: how they speak, move and interact. Then, I make up stories about them. (For people who aren’t writers, this process could be called making assumptions; but for us, it’s just a fun exercise with no ill intentions.)

The still damp hair of a young boy at church could indicate a last-minute shower. It could also be evidence of a wet comb that his mother forced upon him. Details make characters real. Once you have a few possibilities, keep looking for evidence that supports or contradicts your first impression.

When you are “in the field” (AKA people-watching), pay close attention to the revelations when you make incorrect assumptions about people. This is where we begin understanding the true meaning of multi-dimensional characters and how their stories unfold. This is the point where we recognize, “Ah, there is something more to this person than I thought.”

Keep track of your first impressions when you meet people as well. You may expect the handsome lawyer to be egotistical and dismissive, but he may instead be humble and inquisitive.

If you open yourself to this practice, people will surprise you every day.

Mannerisms and appearances are the details that work together to depict, what I call, the layer of first impressions. When you first meet someone, certain details jump out. A pretty lady could skirt her gaze and smile nervously. Perhaps she has long lashes and a surprisingly firm grip. Because she is looking away, you may notice her jewelry instead of her physical features – a simple pearl necklace that rests against her collarbone. It may not be until later that you can really appreciate what makes her a beautiful woman.

These second layers may then take on more meaning. Her blue eyes could be icy or commanding or even heart wrenching. After the first impression, descriptions are filtered through evolving opinions based on interaction and observations of behavior.

Communication
Communication is absolutely imperative to depict a pivotal scene. Keep in mind the many different types of communication: non-verbal gestures and posture, tone of voice, eye contact, etc. Be aware also of what the character is communicating to other characters and how, if at all, this contradicts with what is being communicated to the reader.

For example, a woman may announce that she is pregnant, to which her family and friends offer congratulations; but the reader may know that she is conflicted about becoming a mother.

Of course, dialogue and monologue are vital aspects of communication. Is the character formal or informal? Calculating or expressive? How do others react to what’s being said and how it is presented?

Plot
Writing great characters takes a lot of work, but plot incites revelation, and revelation peels back layers of impressions to reach true empathy and understanding.

Action is a pivot point for character development as it brings tension to a head. Tension builds up to the action, perhaps in weaknesses or conflict or emotional bonding and is then released as new understanding is gained. Even a character-driven plot will need action to gain traction and peak the conflict.

When I was in college, I had a difficult time writing short stories for my creative writing workshops. If I could go back in time, my growth would be apparent, not only when compared to my “former self’, but in comparison to my peers.

However, without that struggle and without the camaraderie of my schoolmates, I may have never reached a higher level of artistry. My character needed that conflict. Ask yourself, “How do I move my character from point A to point B? How does he develop that level of change?”

Ask yourself what that person needs. Just like water, air and every other life-supporting element, people seek out the situations they believe to be a necessity.

But we don’t always choose correctly. Human beings seek out money, power, violence and self-destruction just as often as we choose peace, compassion, empathy and collaboration.

I’ll leave you with this simple phrase on character building:

The thought behind the choice guides the action, while the awareness behind the thought defines the character.

Katheryn Rivas is a regular contributor to Online Universities.com, a leading online university student resource for those interested in pursuing a distance education. She welcomes your comments at katherynrivas87@gmail.com.

Thank you, Katheryn! And now it's time for the Omnific Publishing Blog Bounce. Authors, join us by following the instructions here. Readers can bounce from one blog to another.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Summer Reading Event: The YA of Omnific

Omnific Publishing joins Julie from A Tale of Many Reviews Book Tours to present a Summer Reading Event: The YA of Omnific!


My YA novel Streamline will be reviewed, as well as the great YA stories by my pub sisters: Ember and Shades of Atlantis by Carol Oates, Destiny's Fire by Trisha Wolfe, Embrace by Cherie Colyer, Life, Liberty, and Pursuit by Susan Kaye Quinn, and Breaking Point by Jess Bowen.

I'm also excited to announce that all of these novels will be on sale for $2.99 on Amazon during the month of August! Get your sale copy of Streamline HERE.


You can also enter giveaways for Streamline on the right side of my blog.

Stay tuned for my reviews of Destiny's Fire and Insurgent--I'm loving both of these stories so far.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Summer Giveaway Hop

(Please scroll down for the Insecure Writers Support Group!)

I love summer and I love giveaways...sounds like time for the Summer Giveaway Hop.


Thanks to Kathy from I Am a Reader, Not a Writer blog and Mary from Book Hounds blog for hosting this giveaway. (That's hilarious how Mary names her followers her "dogtourage" hee hee).

My giveaway is INTERNATIONAL. To celebrate the best sport in the Olympics, I'm giving away a Jennifer Lane ebook of your choice, including a swimming novel (Streamline) or a swimming short story (Swim Recruit).

I'm also giving away a $10 iTunes gift card so you can jam to your favorite inspirational song and pretend you're Missy Franklin or Michael Phelps!

ATTENTION: The link to download the free short story Swim Recruit on entry #4 below somehow got corrupted. Sorry!. HERE is the correct link.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Hop on over to all the other participating blogs.
 


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