Monthly Archives: January 2016

Chasing Your Dreams!

by Kassandra Lamb

We all have dreams, and we all believe that we want our dreams to come true.

So what stops us? Many people will say that life gets in the way. I can certainly relate to that. While I was busy making other dreams come true–marriage, raising a child, becoming a psychotherapist–my dream of being a writer simmered on the back burner for a very long time.

But other things can get in the way as well. The biggie is fear of failure.

Epic_fail pub domain wiki

(public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

The bigger the dream, the more we may fear that we won’t be able to achieve it, so why even try? The mild ache we feel when we think about our unfulfilled dream is nothing compared to the heartbreak we will experience if we try and fail.

I don’t have all the answers for overcoming this fear. But I think the most important step in that direction is realizing that a failure does not define who you are or your worth. To try and fail means you are brave. To not try…uh, not so brave.

Also, we’re not going to be great at everything we do. Your achievements do not define your worth; your inner self does. Are you kind, compassionate, hard-working, responsible? Then you are a worthy human being even if you’re not great at everything you try. (See my two posts on recovering from perfectionism for more on this.)

And if we don’t try, how will we ever know if we’re great at it or not?

The other fear that gets in people’s way, usually on a subconscious level, is fear of success.

Yes, you heard me right. Fear of Success. This is what that fear sounds like as it whispers in your ear:

So what if you do finish this first book and people like it? Then they’ll expect you to write another one, just as good or better. What if the first one’s a fluke? What if you only have one good book in you?

People can sometimes fear that they won’t be able to sustain success. And/or they may fear that others will develop certain expectations of them that they won’t be able to continue to fulfill.

This fear is more common when others have pushed us to pursue our dream. They may have inadvertently put undue pressure on us, made us feel that we would be letting them down if we don’t succeed.

Think about this for a moment. If you are successful at your first stab at something, how likely is it that you won’t be able to do it again? I get better at things with practice. Don’t you?

And even if you can only do it once. Isn’t that better than never pursuing your dream at all?

Yet another thing that can slow us down is not knowing the steps needed to get to our dream. We may have a vague idea of the first step or two, but after that it’s all a fog.

Steps to Nowhere (photo by Evelyn Simak, CC-BY-SA 2.0 Wikimedia Commons)

Steps to Nowhere (photo by Evelyn Simak, CC-BY-SA 2.0 Wikimedia Commons)

What I discovered with writing though is that the fog clears as you take the next step, and then the next. So you don’t have to see the whole path, just the next step or two in front of you.

My other dreams seemed obtainable so I pursued them, but the one about becoming a fiction writer–that always seemed out of reach. I absolutely hate having other people control my fate. I just couldn’t imagine myself making the rounds of agents and publishers, begging someone to give my literary baby a chance to live. So I never really tried. I wrote the beginnings of about five books over the years, but never got past chapter five or six in any of them.

Then I attended a workshop on e-publishing, and everything changed. I didn’t know all the steps but here was a path that would allow me to take control of my dream.

Whether or not it happened would depend on whether I could please my readers, not whether an agent or publisher thought my book was saleable. It’s taken six years to get here, but I now have eight books and three novellas published, with two more on the way. (To make the process easier for today’s new writers, I’ve spelled out the steps in the guidebook below.)

Whatever your dream is, don’t let fear stop you. Research what the first steps would be to make it happen. It might not be as hard as it looked, all foggy from the outside looking in. You may discover a path that you feel confident you can handle.

And as the saying goes: Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

How about you? Do you have a dream you’ve never really pursued? Is this the year to make it happen?

If your dream has been to become a fiction writer, I now have a short, easy-to-read guidebook out for new writers. My goal is to show the path to making your dream come true, while helping you avoid the pain of some of the pitfalls and potholes I stumbled into during the last six years.

It’s just 99 cents for a limited time! (Goes up to $2.99 soon.)

a SomedayIsHere FINAL (1)Someday Is Here! by Kassandra Lamb

This easy-to-read, how-to guide is full of both practical advice and emotional support. Psychotherapist turned successful mystery writer, Kassandra Lamb takes novice writers by the hand and walks with them on their journey, pointing out pitfalls along the way, some of which she discovered through tumbled-head-first-into-them experience.

From the decisions to be made before setting pen to paper to whether to submit to agents or self-publish, from the basics of writing craft to the nuts and bolts of copyrighting and ISBNs, from promotion strategies to the perseverance needed to make your writing business a success, this overview of the writing and publishing process is a must-read for new authors who aren’t sure what they’re getting themselves into.

AVAILABLE NOW ON (just $0.99):   AMAZON US    AMAZON UK    AMAZON CA    APPLE    KOBO    B&N

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington mystery series, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

Teasing vs. Bullying

by Kassandra Lamb

In response to my Ask a Shrink request for psychology topics last week, one of my fellow authors, Lynn Kelley (she writes children’s books) asked this question: What’s the difference between mean kidding and bullying, and what does it say about the person doing it?

This is a question I can address not only as a psychologist but as someone who has lived it.

“Mean kidding” is an oxymoron. If it’s truly kidding, then it isn’t intended to be mean, although it might accidentally cross that line. When this happens the kidder will usually backpedal and apologize if they realize they have hurt the other person’s feelings.

Kidding around or teasing can actually be a means of showing affection. Teasing someone about a flaw can be conveying unconditional acceptance. One is essentially saying, “I recognize that you have this idiosyncracy but it doesn’t matter to me; I can make light of it.”

I come from a family of teasers and being the youngest, I got the brunt of it (mostly for being talkative). But it left me feeling warm and loved, not attacked or excluded.

In school, on the other hand, I was emotionally attacked on a regular basis by kids who weren’t teasing. They were putting me down to build themselves up.

So what is the difference between this kind of mean kidding and bullying? There is none. Mean kidding is one form of a type of bullying called relational bullying.

Relational bullying is more common in girls but boys certainly use it as well. It includes making fun of someone, ostracizing them, spreading rumors about them, etc. And now, with the Internet, there are even greater opportunities for relatonal bullying.

photo by Vivianlee2005 CC-BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons

photo by Vivianlee2005 CC-BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons

Human beings are instinctively pack animals. Some of us strive to be the alpha of the pack, others end up the scapegoat who gets picked on. Most of us are trying to hold our ground somewhere in the middle.

By the time we reach adulthood most of us have been able to rein in these instincts. Perhaps we have even harnessed them in constructive ways, such as through athletics. But this pack mentality is still quite blatant in children.

What does mean kidding say about the person doing it? It depends on that person’s position within the pack. The alpha member of the pack isn’t always a bully, but the odds are good that they are. Bullies are often the ones who rise to the top, usually because the other kids are afraid to cross them. Bullies are insecure, and they deal with their insecurities by seeking out weakness in others.

But those in the middle of the pack will go along with the putdowns, adding their own insults so they can look cool in the eyes of the other pack members, and especially to please the alpha. These kids, on their own, are often nice kids. They just want to belong and are instinctively trying to survive in the pack.

The victims, or scapegoats, are also riddled with insecurity. But they tend to express it more by being shy and self-effacing, or being too eager to please (that was me). The alpha senses their vulnerability, like a shark smelling blood in the water.

photo by Harlequeen from Cambridge UK CC-BY 2.0 Wikimedia Commons

photo by Harlequeen from Cambridge UK CC-BY 2.0 Wikimedia Commons

And once a scapegoat has been branded as such via the verbal attacks from the alpha, they are unlikely to be able to break out of that role. Even in a new environment, they may not be able to shift their position in the pack.

Most people who know me as an adult are shocked to find out that I was a social outcast through most of my school years. Even when I changed schools in sixth grade and tried my darndest to fit in with the popular kids (or at least not be noticed), I ended up suffering the verbal slings and arrows of the alpha and her following. My only friends were the other outcasts.

It wasn’t until high school (in another community, thanks to boundary changes in the school districts) that I finally broke out of the pattern and had a circle of friends. We weren’t the most popular kids in school, but we weren’t outcasts either.

What can we do about relational bullying? It’s really quite simple; we as adults need to step in when we see it happening. Don’t wait until the first punch is thrown. Stop the mean teasing. Point out to the group that they aren’t being very nice. Ask them how they would feel if they were on the receiving end of that treatment.

You won’t change the alpha most likely, but you’ll stop that particular assault. And you’ll make the victim feel better because someone cared enough to step in. (By the way, make sure the victim walks away with you so the alpha can’t immediately start up again.)

Where you’ll have the most impact is with the middle of the group. You have supplanted the alpha as the authority figure, at least temporarily, and you’ve made them think about what they’re doing. Next time, some of them will refuse to participate in the teasing, and that may begin to shift the tide away from that alpha as a leader.

I’ve seen this approach in action. One of my son’s classmates in elementary school was pretty dorky. He acted weird and wore thick glasses. During the school year, he was teased unmercifully and ostracized completely.

But during the summers, that same group of kids went to a local daycare center’s summer camp. There, the adults did not ignore the bullying. They stepped in, stopped the mean teasing and encouraged the other kids to include this boy. By the middle of the summer, they no longer had to step in. He was a member of the pack.

How about you? Have you ever been the victim of mean teasing? Do you have other suggestions for intervening?

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington mystery series, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

WORD!!

 

image by Vicious Speed, public domain, Wikimedia Commons

image by Vicious Speed, public domain, Wikimedia Commons

by Kassandra Lamb

There’s this thing going around where, in lieu of new year’s resolutions, people pick one word to represent their hopes and goals for 2016.

One word? Seriously? I never say anything in just one word.

But hey, I’m game to try. The first word that came to mind was “Wow!” But that was probably a better word for 2015 than 2016. This past year, my books did particularly well. And I started getting emails, several a week, from readers who had just discovered my Kate Huntington books. I love, love, love hearing from readers!!

Plus my husband and I checked a big item off of our bucket list. We spent over three weeks in Hawaii!

Rd to Hana trop garden 2b

view from a tropical garden in Maui

So 2015 was definitely a Wow year.

I also got an idea for a new series that I’m so excited about, plus a couple other projects I’ll tell you about in a moment.

So I think the word for 2016 is going to be “Possibilities.” So many possibilities are opening up this year, not just for me but for several of our misterio press authors.

Shannon Esposito and Kirsten Weiss both started new series in 2015, and will have some additions to those coming out this year. And Kathy Owen and Vinnie Hansen are also toying with some new ideas.

Book 1 in my new series is with beta readers and I’m getting good feedback. (Phew! It’s always such a relief to hear that a story isn’t the pure crap you fear it will be. 🙂 ) This winter, I’ll also be publishing a guide book for novice authors, hoping I can help them avoid some of the pitfalls and potholes I stumbled into on my journey.

And I may write another non-fiction book in 2016. Not sure yet about that project, so I’ll just leave it at that for now. And of course, there will be new installments in my on-going fiction series, the Kate Huntington mysteries and the Kate on Vacation cozies.

As for this blog, honestly, I’m starting to run out of ideas. I blog mainly about psychology and I’ve run through most of the topics I think are important.

image by Khaydock, CC-BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

image by Khaydock, CC-BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

So I’ll open it up to you all. What questions do you have about psychology? Please email me at lambkassandra3 @gmail.com if there’s a topic you’d like me to address. Put “psychology question” in the subject line and let me know what’s on your mind. I’ll do my best to answer everyone’s questions as promptly as I can.

How about you? Do you have a Word for 2016?

Happy New Year, Everyone!!!

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington mystery series, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

5 Empowering Questions to Ask Yourself Daily for a Groovier, More Impactful Life

(Re-blogged from August McLaughlin’s blog, Savor the Storm. Excellent ideas for making the coming year a great one. Enjoy! Kass)

by August McLaughlin

Happy New Year, beauties! I hope you all had wonderful, soul-nourishing holidays. I had a blast visiting family, chilling out and looking back and forward—as we tend to do around New Year’s.

To start the year, I thought I’d share a handful of practices I’m committed to leading my life by. Rather than keep a to-do list, I check in with myself routinely, posing the below questions.

Sure, there are days I skimp on one and max out on another—but the goal isn’t “perfection.” By aiming to live well and fiercely, we can all be and do more without going bonkers. We’ll even have a blast doing it.

Read more…