Tag Archives: Celebrity Status

PULLING UP ROOTS

With a few exceptions (Lee Child’s character, Jack Reacher, comes to mind), we human beings need a sense of roots, a place we call ‘Home.’ For the past decade I’ve had two homes. So if you’ve been wondering where I’ve been this summer, I’ve been in Maryland at our second home.

Before you turn green with envy, read on.

it hasn’t really been a vacation. My husband and I have worked our butts off this summer getting the place ready to put on the market.

I’ve fought the idea of selling the place for several years now, but this summer I was ready. More than ready. It’s an older house and it just needs too much work these days to keep it up.

I put my heart and soul into this little house. When we bought it in 2002, calling it a fixer-upper would have been too kind. It needed a lot of work, and I enjoyed fixing it up (most of the time). I like working with my hands.

Kass's summer house

The BEFORE picture. Note the big-ass AC sticking through the wall. How chic! (Don’t know why the bottom half of this pic is blank.)

With lots of assistance from my brother, and occasionally hired contractors, we’ve modernized the kitchen, finished off what used to be a sleeping porch into a lovely sunroom, plus re-tiled, re-carpeted, re-painted and otherwise refurbished it from stem to stern.

kitchen

Part of our remodeled kitchen. The rooms are so small it’s hard to get a pic of the whole space.

And it has served us well in so many ways.

When we retired in 2004 and moved to Florida, this little house made that transition go much smoother than it otherwise might have. I was born in Maryland and had lived here my entire life, and my husband had called Maryland home for thirty years. Knowing we still had a place in Maryland made it a lot easier to let go. As my husband put it, we didn’t have to pull up all of our roots all at once.

Also our son was in graduate school at the time, and planned to come back to Maryland to work afterwards. So every summer we would load up our van and make the trek up I-95, to see our son and his wife, my brother and other family members and our Maryland friends. And to relax in the somewhat cooler clime of Maryland for a couple months.

This little house has been a Godsend a couple of times. In 2008 when my daughter-in-law was pregnant with my eldest grandson, I came up a week before he was due and stayed at the house, just two hours’ drive (instead of two days) away from them. When the little guy made his appearance, I was able to be there to help the new parents out.

Kass's study at Maryland house

My writing cave in Maryland.

In 2011, I spent several weeks at the house, just me and the dog, doing some much needed projects (that were easier to do without another person underfoot). And in the evenings, I wrote. That summer I finished the first drafts of two novels, Celebrity Status and Collateral Casualties.

I threw my husband’s retirement party and also his 60th birthday party at this little house. It has many fond memories attached to it–trips to watch 4th of July fireworks in the nearby small town, eating Maryland crab cakes at the waterside restaurants, 4H fairs at the county fairgrounds…

But the time has come to pull up the last of our roots here.

I used to love the projects. Now the aging house is throwing problems at us faster than we can keep up. And many of the friends and family members we came here to visit have moved on. My son and family are now in Pennsylvania and my brother has moved to Florida, 40 miles from our home down there.

We’ll still travel north periodically to visit folks there, but we’ll stay in motels or rented condos like the rest of the tourists.

And I’ll probably sneak over now and again to the old neighborhood, and check on the little house that was my fixer-upper project, my roots in my home state and my writing haven for so many years.

The Maryland house today

The finished product of our efforts this year. I spent my birthday painting that shed!

How important are roots to you? Are you one of those natural nomads who doesn’t seem to need them (like Jack Reacher) or do you need a sense of ‘home’ somewhere? Where are your roots?

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.

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.

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Talking about Autism over at Rhonda Hopkins’ Place Today

I’m over at Rhonda Hopkins’ blog today, as part of her Authors Give Back series. I’m talking about Autism, and I’m donating all proceeds from Celebrity Status in February to the organization, Autism Speaks. Come join us over there! (Put this in your browser address line if the link above doesn’t work — http://bit.ly/12HZh9 )

Also, today is the last day to sign up for your blind date with a free e-book at the Valentine’s Day Book Date Giveaway. Everybody gets a free book in one of your favorite genres.

Watch for a Just for Fun post on Thursday!

(posted by Kassandra Lamb)

 

Did Your Mom Give You ‘The Look’?

As we head into the season of overspending, overindulging, and dealing with relatives we don’t always like, I figured it might be helpful to pass on some advice I learned years ago about guilt.

My mom had this look. From across the room, she could make me want to crawl under the nearest piece of furniture. She didn’t have to say or do anything else. The Look was enough to tell me I’d screwed up big time!

Nobody but nobody can make us feel guilty quite like our mothers can. And that’s a good thing, because moms and dads are responsible for teaching us right from wrong. It’s their job to instill guilt in us!

I'm 5, Mother just gave me The Look

Me, age 5, looking quite subdued, after my mother (the one with the crossed arms) just gave me The Look! (This was an in-laws’ Christmas night party my father endured for many years.)

As kids, guilt may stop us from doing stuff we know our parents wouldn’t like, even if we’re not too sure why that stuff is wrong. We just know our folks will be mad, and disappointed in us, if we do it. Guilt starts out as a variation on fear. Fear of rejection by someone we care about, i.e., our parents. So at first we feel guilty mainly if we think we’re going to get caught, or if we’ve already been caught doing something wrong.

But once we’ve got a fairly good conscience established, the guilt isn’t necessarily linked anymore to whether we’re likely to get caught. Indeed, children will sometimes confess to their parents that they did something wrong, just to make the guilt go away.

Now guilt has become a motivating emotion in its own right. It keeps us on the straight and narrow.

The Big Guy in the Sky knew exactly what He was doing when He invented guilt. He was the first parent to give The Look, as He tossed Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden for disobeying Him.

Adam and Eve beingin banished from the garden

(from free clipart by christiansunite.com)

The purpose of guilt is to remind us of the rules we internalized as kids. It’s supposed to stop us when we are about to do something that breaks those rules. It keeps us from stealing or from hitting people when we’re pissed at them. If we feel the desire to do those things, the guilt kicks in. If we don’t do the behavior, the guilt goes away.

The problem comes in when we’re not quite sure what we’re feeling guilty about, or when we feel conflicting emotions about something. Then what do we do with those guilty feelings? When I was still a novice psychotherapist, more years ago than I am willing to admit, I learned a simple five-step approach for dealing with guilt.

  • First, you determine exactly what behavior you are feeling guilty about. It may be a behavior you’ve already done, or one you want to do, or something you feel you should’ve done but haven’t, and/or don’t particularly want to. Sometimes it helps to say it out loud: I feel guilty because I want to/don’t want to/did/did not __________ (fill in an action).

  Example: I feel guilty because I don’t want to go to my in-laws’ for Christmas dinner.

  • Second, you identify the internalized rule that the behavior is breaking. You may notice that the rules often have the words always or never in them. This is because children are all-or-nothing thinkers by nature. So the rules get recorded in our conscience in this child-like absolute language.

In our example, the rule might be ‘One is always supposed to be nice to one’s in-laws.’ Or perhaps, ‘One should never make people feel rejected and unloved.’

  • Third, you analyze the rule to decide whether or not you still believe it is valid as it stands, or does it need to be modified, or perhaps ejected completely from the rule book.

Let’s say in our example that the in-laws are not very nice people and they don’t treat you or your spouse (their own grown child) very well. Every holiday spent with them is totally miserable.

Do you really have to keep being nice to people who aren’t nice to you?

(A word of caution here. This exercise is not meant to be used to justify whatever you want to do by changing the rule. Ask yourself if you honestly still believe in the rule!)

Or perhaps your in-laws are nice enough people but you just really hate the long drive and the boring conversation.

Is it okay to make them feel rejected and unloved just because they’re boring?

  • Fourth, depending on how you now feel about the rule, you either modify the rule and/or the behavior so that they are in sync with each other again.

First Scenario (nasty in-laws): You might decide to change the rule to ‘One should be nice to one’s in-laws unless they are nasty people who mistreat you and/or your family members.’

There are several alternatives for changing your behavior. If you really hate going to your in-laws, is it time to take a stand and insist they treat you all better? (This, of course, must be discussed with your spouse and it’s their call ultimately, since it’s their family.)

If your spouse isn’t ready to deal with it, then you might decide to suck it up and go anyway. But now you are doing it to support your spouse, not out of guilt because you’re supposed to be nice, even to people who aren’t nice to you.

Second Scenario (nice but boring in-laws): You may very well decide that the rule should stand as is. Wait, let’s take that word never out of there. Absolutes like that are rarely a good idea.

 How about: ‘One should try very hard not to make people feel unloved or rejected.’

So you probably want to suck it up and go spend one evening with the boring but harmless in-laws. You don’t need to feel guilty, however, about not liking it!

Which brings us to step 5…

  • Fifth, once the behavior and the rule are in sync, thank the guilt for doing it’s job and then send it on it’s way!

But wait, you might be thinking, I still feel guilty for not liking my in-laws!

Why? No, no, not why don’t you like your in-laws; we’ve already determined that they are either nasty or boring. Why are you feeling guilty about your feelings. Guilt isn’t about feelings; it’s about behavior. We can’t control how we feel; we can only control how we act. (See The History of Emotion for a somewhat tongue-in-cheek description of how our society came to the erroneous conclusion that we should control our feelings, not just how we express them.)

If you’re doing the right thing, it’s okay to let go of the guilt–pat yourself on the back even–and move on.

This really hangs some people up though. I had a client say to me one time. “Well, I know it really is okay to do that, even though I was taught not to. So if I feel guilty about it, then I can go ahead and do it.”

Is your head spinning maybe just a little? Mine did at the time. I finally figured out what she meant. Her guilt was the sacrifice to the Parent Gods so that she could then go ahead with the behavior; i.e. it’s okay to break the rules Mom and Dad taught you, as long as you feel guilty about it.

No, no, if you don’t believe in the rule anymore, then change the dang rule! You’re a grown-up now. You get to think for yourself.

If you really have trouble letting go of the guilt, sometimes a ritual is helpful.

For example, I’ve had clients write out the whole thing on a piece of paper. “I feel guilty about… The rule is… I have changed the rule/behavior to… The guilt has done its job. Thank you, guilt. You can go now.” Then I’d give them a book of matches and have them burn the piece of paper (over an empty trash can) as a symbol of letting go of the guilt.

I love this 5-step exercise. It has helped me sort out my guilty feelings more than once and pointed me in the right direction to act appropriately.

What about you? What do you tend to feel guilty about? Can you let guilt go once you’ve figured out what to do?

By the way, the contest celebrating the release of Celebrity Status, A Kate Huntington Mystery, is still going on through next Sunday. Clcik HERE to enter.

 (Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.)

 

We blog here at misterio press once a week about more serious topics, usually on Monday or Tuesday. Sometimes we blog again, on Friday or the weekend, with something just for fun.

Please follow us by filling in your e-mail address toward the top of the column on the right, so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun!

 

Are Psychopaths/Serial Killers Born or Raised? Yes, All of the Above.

Sorry, no post here because I am the guest of Stacy Green today over at Turning the Page, talking about The Making of a Psychopath–the Ultimate Thrill Seeker–how psychopaths and serial killers are both born and raised. Guaranteed to make the hair stand up on the back of your neck!

But before you hop over there, check out the contest below if you haven’t already entered. And I’ve got a Fun Friday post planned for this week on Christmas shopping–Are you a Pro-crastinator or a Pre-crastinator?

THE Celebrity Status (Book 4 in the Kate Huntington Mystery series) CONTEST!

Win a $30 gift card and more (everyone who enters gets a FREE e-book copy of Multiple Motives, the first book in the series) HERE!

This book is also available in paperback. Good luck to everyone who enters!

(Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.)

 

We blog here at misterio press once a week about more serious topics, usually on Monday or Tuesday. Sometimes we blog again, on Friday or the weekend, with something just for fun.

Please follow us (by filling in your e-mail address toward the top of the column on the right) so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun!

 

“I WON, I WON!!!” – Aren’t Contests Fun?

I’ve never been all that into contests, mainly because I never, ever win them. And then I won one, totally unexpectedly.  And it launched my publishing career!

My church has a Holiday Bazaar every year in November (indeed, this year’s starts tonight; I’ll show you the goodies I score next week). They usually have a raffle and I always buy $10 worth of tickets, sometimes without even knowing what the prize is. I’m just trying to help out my church.

A few years ago, I was shocked when I heard my name being called out the last day of the Bazaar. For a minute I reverted back to childhood and thought I’d done something wrong. A woman’s voice kept loudly and persistently calling my name, and then she called out, “Please come to the raffle table.”

Holy Moly, I’d won! They’d pulled one of my lovely little Christmasy-colored raffle tickets out of the box!

I didn’t even remember what the prize was. I approached the table and the woman, DeeDee, handed me a tan box. All it said on the outside was Amazon. And then it clicked. I’d just won a Kindle! Cool, I thought.

Not much of a reaction, huh.

You see, I’m a bit of a techno-idiot. Up to that point, I hadn’t given e-readers much thought. Just another annoying newfangled gadget, I’d assumed. For a few minutes, I even considered giving the Kindle to someone on my Christmas list. Boy, am I glad I didn’t do that!

It took me about a month to figure out how to use my new toy, but after I got the hang of it, I loved it!

And then I went to a writers’ conference and one of the presenters was talking about how e-books were turning the publishing industry upside down. I also met misterio press’s co-founder, Shannon Esposito, at that conference.

I won’t bore you with the details but that conference set things in motion. Shannon and I hatched a plan, and we started looking for top-quality mystery writers to join us (we’re still looking for a few more, by the way; we’re a bit picky). A year later, misterio press was born!

And it all started with that contest. If I hadn’t won that Kindle, I wouldn’t have really understood what that presenter was even talking about.

So now I LOVE contests!  And we’re holding TWO right now here at misterio press.

One is to celebrate Kirsten Weiss’s launch of The Shamanic Detective. Hurry, that one only has three more days to go! I’ve also got a contest going because I’ve just launched Book 4 in my Kate Huntington Mystery series, Celebrity Status.

We love contests so much here at misterio that we’re holding another huge one in December, so stay tuned!

The Shamanic Detective (3rd in the Riga Hayworth series)

Win this fabulous swag pack:

HURRY! Contest ends November 18th! Enter HERE to win!

 AND the Celebrity Status (Book 4 in the Kate Huntington Mystery series) CONTEST!

 

Win a $30 gift card and more (everyone who enters gets a FREE e-book copy of Multiple Motives, the first book in the series) HERE!

 

Both books are also available in paperback. Good luck to everyone who enters!

Tell us about some of the contests you’ve won.  Or do you believe, as I once did, that contests are a waste of time because you never win?

(Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.)

 

We blog here at misterio press once a week about more serious topics, usually on Monday or Tuesday. Sometimes we blog again, on Friday or the weekend, with something just for fun.

Please follow us (by filling in your e-mail address toward the top of the column on the right) so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun!

 

The History of Emotions (and a contest to celebrate the launch of a new book!)

I’ve been thinking a lot about emotions lately, for a lot of reasons.

One was Veterans Day. Nothing makes our hearts swell quite so much as thinking about the sacrifice our troops make for us.

So first, let me say a huge THANK YOU to all the brave men and women through the years who have left home and family in order to protect and preserve our country! We owe you everything. Big HUGS to all of you!!!

The other day, I stumbled across this interesting tidbit. The English word, emotion, comes from the Latin word, exmovere, which literally means “to move out.” Ah, apparently the ancient Romans knew a thing or two about emoting. They got it that feelings needed to “move out” of us, not be suppressed or bottled up.

This made me curious, so I went cruising around the cybersphere to see how different cultures feel about feelings. Here are some of the random things I discovered that you can use to impress your friends at the next party you attend.

The Giriami people of coastal Kenya don’t separate reason from emotion, nor do they feel the need to segregate emotions from one another. Their word utsungu refers to bitterness, resentment, anger and grief–feelings that are often experienced together.

For the Ifaluk of the Caroline Islands, emotions are a social event. One of their emotion words is song, refering to justifiable anger at someone who has behaved inappropriately toward you. That person, when they find out you are experiencing song, is supposed to feel metagu. This word translates as fear/anxiety but it’s probably more about guilt and fear of social rejection. However, if the person who supposedly caused the song does not feel the anger is justified, then the two parties negotiate how they should feel, and depending on the situation, others may join the discussion.

I’m still trying to decide how I feel about that. On the one hand, they’re talking–always a good thing. But on the other hand, emotions determined by a committee? Yikes!

Most Native American cultures view emotions as part and parcel of the whole human experience–body, mind, emotion, spirit and the social context are inseparable. One’s goal is to remain in harmony within oneself, and also with others and nature. Physical illness is viewed as evidence that something is out of harmony and the healer’s task is to help the afflicted person regain that harmony.

Hmm, very interesting. In other words, many very old cultures, that would be considered ‘primitive’ by the standards of modern industrialized society, view emotions as a natural part of being human that is inseparable from reason or even from our bodies.

So how did Americans end up being so–well uptight I guess would be the best word–about emotions?

A little more messing around with Google and I had some answers. Seems that started with the Romans as well, although they never intended to promote the suppression of emotions.

They pretty much invented civilization. The Latin word civilitas, from which our words civilization and civility are derived, has several translations: politics/government, citizenship, and the behavior of an ordinary person. The Romans believed that every person, in order to be a good citizen, should behave in a manner that would avoid social friction. (The key word being behave.)

Cicero Maccari--fresco in Palazzo Madama, Rome

The Romans invented the Senate–now we know who to blame! (public domain in USA)

This concept of civilitas became one of the basic building blocks of European societies. Regardless of what one was feeling, the expectation was that one would behave in a civilized manner, i.e., exhibit self-control. Makes sense. We can’t be civilized if everybody is running around impulsively acting out every emotion!

So things hum along for quite a few centuries with most folks trying to be civilized, except when they were trying to conquer each other.

Then along comes the Age of Enlightenment, also referred to as the Age of Reason. There’s some debate about when exactly this age started, but it was somewhere between 1650 and 1700. A bunch of philosophers started to question two time-honored traditions, the authority of the church and the idea that monarchs were ordained by God to rule. They introduced the novel idea that all human beings could think for themselves. Wow, what a concept!

 A lot of great stuff came out of the Enlightenment, including the scientific method, democracy, free enterprise, the concepts of individual freedom and religious tolerance, the spread of literacy and the idea that books should be available to all people, not just the upper classes.

Unfortunately, however, as this movement took hold, the idea that reason should rule supreme evolved into a distrust of emotion. Emotions were the enemy of rationality. They were evil. Now it was no longer sufficient to control your behavior. Now you were supposed to control your feelings as well. It wasn’t enough that you refrained from hitting your neighbor or calling him names when you were mad at him; you were not supposed to feel that way!

The Age of Enlightenment gave way to Romanticism in the late 1700’s and emotions came back into vogue in Europe. But in the meantime, the British colonies in America had gone and thrown themselves a revolution and they were now the United States–a country founded on the concepts of the Enlightenment. Indeed, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights are pure Enlightenment philosophy.

The Romantic Era not only influenced art and literature in Europe, it had a huge impact on politics and nationalism there. American art and literature were also strongly influenced by it, but from a philosophy of life standpoint, the rugged individualists who’d braved leaving their homelands to settle in a new land still preferred the ideals of the Enlightenment.

So the attitudes toward emotion did not swing very far back toward the middle ground in the U.S. It was okay for poets and artists to be emotional but the rest of us were still expected to keep a lid on our feelings.

 Now as a psychologist and professor of developmental psychology, I know research has established that all human beings, regardless of race, culture or gender, feel the same feelings. We are born with the same basic emotions.

crying newborn

Indeed, we come into the world howling in protest, which is considered a sign of good lungs! (photo by Ernest F of his daughter, from Wikimedia Commons)

Tiny babies express happiness, interest, surprise, distress and disgust. Anger, fear and sadness show up around six months old. In the second year of life, pride, guilt and shame, called the self-conscious emotions, develop as the toddler realizes s/he is a separate entity from others, that s/he has a ‘self.’

Almost all other emotions are variations or combinations of these basic ones. We all feel these emotions. What varies from culture to culture is to what degree and in what way we express them. And how much we are allowed to acknowledge them within ourselves.

I also know, as a psychologist, that you really can’t suppress emotions. Pushing them down and trying to ignore them just makes them go underground, and then they’re likely to come out in unexpected and undesirable ways. One of my professors in college used the analogy of a volcano to describe the futility of suppressing emotions, especially anger. He said that if we manage to drop a huge boulder in the crater and stop the volcano from erupting, the pressure from the hot lava is still there. It will look for every crack and fissure in the sides of the mountain to come spewing out.

spewing lava

Lava spewing from side of volcano (Stromboli, Italy–photo by Wolfgangbeyer at German language Wikipedia)

So the Romans had it right, all those centuries ago. We have to move emotions out of our systems in some way, shape or form, but in a civilized manner.

Another reason emotions have been on my mind lately is because of the new book I’m launching today in my Kate Huntington Mystery series. Of course there’s an intriguing mystery to be solved, but the other theme of the story is what happens to the main characters when they are being hounded by the paparazzi (often not a very civilized bunch). How do they cope as their feelings of frustration and helplessness build up?

Check it out below. And there’s a contest to win free stuff! You even get a free e-book of the first novel in the series just for entering the contest.

And don’t forget to tell me what you think in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts on how we handle feelings in our society? And those of you outside the U.S., how do you think your culture’s approach to emotions is different or similar to ours? 

Celebrity Status, A Kate Huntington Mystery

Kate is now married to Skip Canfield, the man who patiently courted her through the last two books in this mystery series, and life is good. Skip’s private investigating agency may be doing a little too well, however. They’ve attracted their first celebrity client, a pop singer whose anonymous stalker has a twisted concept of love. Before Skip realizes just how twisted, he involves first his psychotherapist wife and then their lawyer friend, Rob Franklin, in the case.

Soon they are being hounded by paparazzi and someone is planting evidence to convince Skip that Kate and Rob are lovers. As they try to cope with this onslaught of unwanted attention and a stalker who will stop at nothing to remove the obstacles in his path, Kate and Skip struggle with the reality that you can’t always keep those you love from harm.

About the Author

Author Kassandra Lamb

Writing and psychology have always vied for number one on my Greatest Passions list. Since psychology was more likely to pay the bills, that’s what I studied (I’m partial to eating). But now that I’m retired from a career as a psychotherapist and college professor, I can spend most of my time in an alternate universe in which my protagonist, Kate Huntington, is always the kind, generous and insightful person I wish I was. When not at my computer, transported in mind and spirit into Kate’s world, I live in Florida and Maryland, with my husband and my Alaskan Husky, Amelia. I hang out a lot on Twitter and Facebook as well, so feel free to track me down there.

 Purchase

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Follow Kassandra Lamb

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The prize: a $30 gift certificate from Amazon, a canvas tote bag and a signed paperback copy of Celebrity Status. EVERY person that enters the contest will get an ebook of the first book in the series, Multiple Motives.

Ends 12/2 Fill out the form to participate

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We blog here at misterio press once a week about more serious topics, usually on Monday or Tuesday. Sometimes we blog again, on Friday or the weekend, with something just for fun.

Please follow us by filling in your e-mail address toward the top of the column on the right, so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun!