Tag Archives: free books

A Check-Up From the Neck Up (and Book Giveaway Announcement)

This is the last installment of my Tour of Fives, celebrating the release of the 5th book in my mystery series. I felt I should bring things back home with my Five Top Tips for Maintaining Mental Health. (This is a revised version of a post I wrote as a guest of Ginger Calem last year.)

When I was a psychotherapist, I realized that doing my job well meant that I worked myself out of a job. Eventually my clients didn’t need me anymore to boost their self-esteem and figure out how to stay on track mental-health-wise in their lives. A few would pop back now and then, when they needed a sounding board for some major life decision. But for the most part, I never heard from them again after they graduated from therapy.

One of my clients, however, had a different take on this. She came in about once a year or so for what she dubbed her “check up from the neck up.” Sometimes she had specific things to discuss but sometimes she just wanted to catch me up on her life and get my feedback.

(photo by safedom, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

(photo by safedom, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia)

I realized this was a very healthy thing she was doing–checking things out with a professional before they became a big deal.

I can’t help but wonder why we don’t have mental health check-ups, like we do for our physical health. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we nipped our psychological problems in the bud, instead of waiting until they fester and make us miserable?

And more emphasis on preventive mental health practices would be an excellent idea as well. So here are:

My Five Top Tips for Maintaining Mental Health.

#1: Check in with yourself several times a day and notice how you’re feeling. Make it a habit that you link to something else in your routine, like mealtimes or driving to and from work. Just stop and take a few seconds to assess where you are emotionally.

I do this when I’m in the car by myself. Then if I realize I’m not completely content, I have some alone time to explore why not, and what I want to do about it.

There are three basic things we can do about something we don’t like. We can (1) change it; (2) get away from it; or (3) change our attitude toward it. This list may sound a bit oversimplified, but it gives us a good place to start to make proactive decisions about a situation that is keeping us from feeling content with our lives.

This ties in with…

#2: Avoid doing things you don’t like to do. Now I’m not advocating being irresponsible (nor procrastination, which tends to just spread out the stress). But when we don’t like something, instead of just forcing ourselves to do it, we can look for ways to make it more palatable.

I don’t like to exercise, but I know it’s a necessary evil. So I looked long and hard for a way to exercise that I didn’t mind, and I found it.

Zumba class! Yay!

Zumba class! Yay!

I love Zumba dancing! Now I’m not saying I jump up with joy when it’s time for Zumba class. I still face some inertia, but that’s a lot better than dread and loathing.

I dislike cleaning even more than exercise, but I discovered that if I do one or two chores every day or so–clean a toilet here, dust a room there–I always have a relatively clean house without spending a huge chunk of time on it.

Delegating or trading off tasks with others is another option. When my husband and I were dating, we would often end up at K-Mart during the course of the evening, so he could buy yet another package of underwear and put off doing laundry a bit longer.

boxer shorts laid out on floor

You own enough of these, you never have to do laundry again!

Now you might be wondering why I kept dating this guy. Actually I am too because it sounds kind of creepy in the retelling, but we’ve been married almost 37 years, and that’s the weirdest thing he’s ever done. He just really, really disliked doing laundry. But he likes to cook, which I’m not fond of. So he took over the kitchen and I rule in the laundry room and we’re both a lot happier.

If you truly hate something, you definitely should not force yourself to do it. If you do, it will make you mentally and emotionally sick. Kinda like forcing yourself to eat spoiled food. Ick!

Instead, try to figure out why that situation is pushing your psychological buttons. Once you know this, you may be able to pull the wires loose from it. But even if you can’t disconnect the button, at least you will know why you need to avoid that thing that you really hate. You’ll go from feeling a little crazy to knowing you are taking good care of your mental health.

Now let me make an important distinction here, between the things you hate and the things you fear.

#3: Face the things you fear IF they are obstacles to getting where you want to be. If you’re afraid of snakes and you live in the city and never go hiking, don’t worry about it. We do not have to face every one of our fears. Only the ones that are stopping us from achieving our goals. But facing your fear doesn’t mean you just forge ahead, making yourself do something. That may make matters worse.

Again, identifying the psychological button may help you disconnect it, or at least work around it. But sometimes we are just afraid of the unknown or the unfamiliar.

I was that way regarding promoting my books. I had no idea what I was doing. I’m not very techno-savvy and I knew I’d have to learn about Twitter and Facebook and blogging, and… and… *grabbing my paper bag*   So I reminded myself of my own advice to clients.

When we’re feeling overwhelmed it can really help to “chunk it down.” I gave myself permission to take it slow, to just learn one thing at a time until I was comfortable with it. So I got on Twitter. A month or so later, I was tweeting away with ease; then I tackled Facebook. Now I’m feeling comfortable with both and I’m contemplating whether I should try Pinterest or Google+ next (it’s more a matter of available time now).

Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help! We Americans come from independent stock. We feel we should do things for ourselves. That’s great, but there’s no shame is asking for help. Don´t you feel good when you know you´ve helped a friend? Give others the opportunity to experience that good feeling.

female friends offering a comforting hand

(photo by Mathias Klang from Göteborg Sweden CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Knowing I had my friend, Shannon, to coach me made it a lot easier to tackle my fear of social media. Friends can reassure, offer suggestions, or just hold your hand.

But ultimately you also have to…

 #4: Trust your gut!

If you’ve got a gut feeling about something, know that there is a reason for that feeling. What we call our gut instinct is really some part of our brain, that we are not currently in direct communication with, that has noticed something is off, or has made some connection between two or more pieces of information that puts a different spin on something.

Your gut instincts are never wrong! Let me repeat, your gut is never wrong. It has picked up on something relevant! The problem is that we get these instinctive hits as vague feelings, not in words. So we have to figure out what our gut is trying to tell us. And sometimes we misinterpret the message.

One of the tricky things here is trying to tease apart what are true gut feelings and what are irrational fears, either of the unknown or residuals from past experiences. Here’s where friends (or a therapist) can again come in handy. Running the whole situation past someone whose judgement you trust–and whom you know will not be judgmental of you!–can help you put it in perspective.

But while you’re trying to sort it out, you need to continue to respect that gut feeling. (I’m thinking I need to do an entire post on this soon.)

And last but never least…

#5: Relax at least three times a day. This is basic stress management. And no whining that you’re too busy and can’t do this. I’m talking about a 5 to 10-minute break (although 15 to 20 minutes is better). I have talked about this at length before. If you take the time to relax and lower your stress level for a few minutes, you will be more focused and more productive when you go back to what needs to get done.

And you are much more likely to be happier and healthier at the end of the day!

 

Reading is one of my favorite ways to relax. And our own Kirsten Weiss is one of my favorite authors. She has a new teaser video out to get us psyched up about her next book (her Book #5!)

And she has Book 4, The Infernal Detective, FREE on Amazon this Thursday and Friday, July 4th and 5th!

Make a note on your calendar to snag yourself a copy for some great summer reading! Then talk to me in the comments.

What helps you relax and/or keeps you on the right track mental-health-wise? Have these tips helped you rethink how you approach certain things?

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 or twice a week, sometimes about serious topics, and sometimes just for fun.

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Five Things I’m Glad There Are Five Of (and a Cover Reveal!)

To celebrate the release of my new book (#5) I’m kicking off a series of posts today about things there are five of. I’m calling it the Tour of Fives. Today’s is a Just for Fun post to go along with the cover reveal for the book.

And you can win something if you stick around to the end. (No, I’m not above bribing people to be my friends. It worked in elementary school so why not?)

So without further ado…

Five Things I’m Glad There Are Five Of (And an awesome cover!)

Fingers: I love my fingers. They are long and slender and quite agile for their age. They do needlework, play the piano (sort of), pet the dog, type (okay, with lots of typos despite the oversized keyboard!), and they squeeze a friend’s hand as needed.

(And no, I am not that mathematically-challenged. I know I have ten of them, but there’s five per hand, so there.)

Toes: I’m not quite as fond of my toes, because they are not long and thin. I’ve got those weird curly-over type toes that aren’t very attractive. Still I’m glad I have them because they keep me upright (most days) and they’re really good for digging into the sand!

little kid toes in the sand

These toes are a lot cuter than mine! Trust me, you DON’T want to see my toes. (photo by cellar_door_films, CC 2.0, WANA Commons)

Toes in the sand reminded me of…

Months in the Summer: No, I haven’t lost my mind. I live in Florida and down here we have five months of summer. It starts in early to mid May and lasts until early to mid October.

I can hear the groans from all the cold-weather types up there in Michigan and Maine. But I love hot weather! And our summer is preceded by two to three months of gorgeous spring weather, from late February to early May. Okay, now you’re envying me! Yup! Sunny, 70’s-low 80’s, low humidity. 🙂

Senses: Where would we be without them!?!?  My favorite sense is touch. When we think of our five senses, it’s often the last to come to mind, maybe because it isn’t as obvious (not like the nose on your face), nor is it as straightforward.

Touch is a complicated sense. It includes pain, pressure and temperature sensors, and they’re located all over our bodies (am I the only one who’s getting a little tingly here?) We also have touch sensors inside our bodies, in our muscles and other tissues.

This is what I love about this sense! Those sensations inside of us tell us (if we’re paying attention) how we’re feeling. And I think I’ll stop right there because I fear another whole blog post is about to evolve here.

Those visceral internal sensations are a true blessing for us writers who want to convey a character’s feelings. “Her throat closed” or “the pressure was building in her chest” are a bit more interesting than just saying she was sad or pissed off.

Which brings us, last but not least, to… Drum roll, please!!!

Books in My Series: Book 5 is on its way! And I’ve been told by advanced readers that this might be the best one yet.

The characters experience LOTS of those visceral feelings (especially fear!) as they are being chased by a ruthless killer. Here’s the awesome cover my cover artist came up with:

book cover for COLLATERAL CASUALTIES, A Kate Huntington Mystery

Let’s hear it for Martina Dalton of The Authors’ Redroom!!  I hope to have this book out by the end of the month, first week of June at the latest.

Here’s what it’s about (and then I’ll tell you about the ‘winning something’ stuff):

When a former client reaches out to psychotherapist Kate Huntington and reveals a foreign diplomat’s dark secret, then dies of ‘natural causes’ just days later, Kate isn’t sure what to think. Was the man delusional or is she now privy to dangerous information?

Soon she discovers her client was totally sane… and he was murdered. Someone is trying to eliminate her, and anyone and everyone she might have told. Forced into hiding, she and her husband, Skip, along with the operatives of his private investigating agency, struggle to stay one step ahead of a ruthless killer. Skip and his P.I. partner are good investigators, but this time they may be in over their heads… and they all could end up drowning in a sea of international intrigue.

I’m so excited about this book that I’m going to give 5 lucky people a chance to win an advance e-book copy. I will randomly pick the winners from the comments below.

What, you thought I was gonna give away money or something? hehe! Maybe next time.

So tell me about something there are five of that you’re particularly grateful for? Or just say something inane so you can try to win a copy. 🙂

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 clicking on RSS or filling in your e-mail address where it says “subscribe to blog via email” in the column on the right, so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun!

Closure – Why Do We Need It?

“Closure” is one of many psychobabble buzz words of recent times. I Googled “why closure is so important” and got almost 6 million results!

Why do we feel the need to have some kind of closure with the past before we can move on?

It sounds like it should be a complex issue, but the answer is really fairly simple. We human beings are programmed to try to understand our environment. We aren’t all that content with the concept of “it is what it is.” We want to know why it is what it is.

door partway open

We humans have to know what’s behind the door, before we can close it and move on. (photo by Eleassar, CC-BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

This trait is extremely important to our survival and our development as a species. Indeed, it is probably the single most important factor in why we are the dominant species on the planet! By figuring out why something happened, we can either make it happen again if it was a good thing, or try to avoid having it happen again if it wasn’t so great. This need to understand the what, how and why is often the stimulant for human ingenuity and invention as well.

When we understand what’s going on we can make adjustments, come up with solutions. When we are left in the dark, we are uneasy.

The topic of closure popped into my head as a good subject to talk about this week because I just read JoAnn Bassett’s latest release, Kaua’i Me a River. This book’s a bit more serious than the others in her Islands of Aloha mystery series (although it still has its humorous moments). It is a very compelling story. I believe it’s my favorite of the series (and I’ve liked them all!)

The main character, Pali Moon, is minding her own business, trying to ignore her thirty-fifth birthday, when she receives a not very informative letter from a lawyer requesting her presence at a meeting to discuss an “urgent family matter.” That letter reopens some old wounds and Pali (pronounced Polly) becomes determined to find out what really happened to her mother, who died when Pali was just five years old. She risks a lot to find out what happened and why… pursuing that need for closure.

book cover of Kaua'i Me a River

We may not always like what we find out, but unanswered questions from our past tend to leave us psychologically incomplete. For better or worse, we humans need to understand the past in order to put it to rest and move on.

Have you had times when a lack of closure has left you feeling incomplete or unable to move on?

While you’re pondering that question, take a look at JoAnn’s new release, Kaua’i Me a River. Also the first book in her series, Maui Widow Waltz, is FREE today through Thursday on Amazon!

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 where it says “subscribe to blog via email” in the column on the right, so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun!

Do You Experience More Ennui or Joie de Vivre?

This is the second installment in our Just for Fun Friday series on Emotion Words Around the World. And we have hit on what we think is a great prize for the best comment. Whoever comes up with the best story about our emotion word or words of the day will get a free e-book.

Yay! Who’s gonna turn down a free book, right?

Today we explore the deeper meanings of two French terms, ennui and joie de vivre. These may very well be words you’ve heard before, since they are often used in English as well. But just as often something gets lost in their translation.

Ennui is defined in English dictionaries as boredom and listlessness. Well, yeah, but in French it means a bit more than that. It often connotes a certain level of dissatisfaction with life, and maybe even an unwillingness to do anything about being bored. When someone is suffering from ennui they are mired down in a weariness and discontent that may be hard to shake. Indeed, the root of the word, from old French, means annoyance. So there’s a certain amount of low-grade irritability involved. The word is not synonymous with depression, but it is describing the feelings that we often experience when we are mildly depressed.

(photo by Jessica Mullen, CC 2.0 license, Wikimedia Commons)

Let’s contrast ennui with bored:

American teenager (with slouched shoulders and glazed-over look on face): “Mother, I am sooo bored!”

French teenager (with head thrown back, eyes closed, back of hand against forehead): “Maman, j’ai ennui!

American teenager isn’t annoyed so much as she is annoying–to her mother. French teenager, you’re starting to worry she’ll become suicidal. Either that or you want to enroll her in drama school.

Now joie de vivre on the other hand, does translate more directly into English–joy of living. And yet we Americans never say that. We don’t walk around saying, “I’m feeling joy of living today.” But it is okay to say, “I’m full of joie de vivre today.” Why is that?

My best guess is that because we’re not too comfortable with public displays of intense emotions in this country, it is somehow more acceptable to express feeling crazy happy with life via a French expression. That’s okay, because you know those French, they’re an emotional lot.

I’m a fairly intense person (just ask my husband; he’ll be happy to tell you all about my mood swings), so I feel both ennui and joie de vivre a good bit.

For me, ennui is definitely not simple boredom. I rarely experience boredom, except in doctors’ waiting rooms when I forget my kindle. But some days I do have ennui. Not because I have nothing to do; au contraire, I usually have too much to do on those days. And yet I don’t feel like doing any of the things I should be doing. For me, ennui is a vague, itchy-in-my-own-skin restlessness combined with a not-quite-depressed-but-definitely-less-than-happy feeling.

Needless to say, I’m not fond of ennui.

Joie de vivre, on the other hand, is wonderful. It’s chocolate ice cream with chocolate sauce, whipped cream and a cherry on top!

(photo by Zachariah Judy, CC 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

(And nuts. I forgot to mention the nuts! Because what would life be without a few nuts in it, right?)

Even though I’m not a morning person, I most often feel joie de vivre early in the day (maybe because I’m not all that tired yet). And it’s not usually associated with something spectacularly wonderful that’s happening in my life. I most often feel it when I’m driving somewhere in the morning or early afternoon–usually to someplace relatively mundane, like the grocery store or Zumba class. I’ll get this light, bubbly feeling in my chest and I’ll just feel happy to be alive!

How about you? When do you tend to feel either ennui or joie de vivre, and how would you describe your experience of those feelings?

Remember the most interesting (or funniest) comment will get you a free e-book. And you get to choose from any of the books put out by our misterio press authors. So make something up it good!

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 where it says “subscribe to blog via email” in 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!